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First Edition, 1945. 


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Chapter I 


By KATAYUN H. CAMA, M.A. (Bom,), M.SC., ph,D. 
(Mich.), Presidency Magistrate of the Juvenile 
Court, Bombay - ... - l 

Chapter II 


of the Department of Economics and Sociology, 
University of Lucknow - - - 19 

Chapter III 

By the late N. N. SEN GUPTA, M.A., ph.D. (Harv.), 
Head of the Department of Philosophy, 
University of Lucknow .... 27 

Chapter IV 

By B. C. DAS GUPTA, B.SC. (HON.) (CaL), M.B. (CaL), 
M.R.C.P. (Ireland), D.T.M. & H. (Lond.), D.P.H, 
(Lond.), Executive Health Officer, Bombay 
Municipality ------ 41 


I Chapter V 


By AMAR CHAND BHATIA, M.A., Assistant Editor, 

44 Tribune ", Lahore 58 

Chapter VI 


By M. VASUDEVA MOORTHY, Ph.D. (Bom.), Lecturer 
in Sociology, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, 
Bombay ------ 69 

Chapter VII 

By the late P. M. TITUS, M.A., B.D., Ph.D. (Chicago), 
Lecturer in Social Work, Tata Institute of 
Social Sciences, Bombay (1989-42) - - 89 

Chapter VIII 

By B. H. MEHTA, M.A., Ph.D. (Bom.), Reader in Socio- 
logy, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bombay - 107 

Chapter IX 


By J. F,, BULSARA, M.A., Ph.D. (Lond.), Deputy 

Municipal Commissioner, Bombay Municipality - 119 

Chapter X 

By JOHN BARNABAS, B.A., (Lucknow), DIP.S.S.A., 
(Tiss.), Organizing Secretary, Social Service 
League, Lucknow - - - - 159 

Chapter XI 


By J. M, KUMAKAPPA, M.A. (Harv.), S.T.B., M.A., Ph.D. 
(Colum. ), Director, Tata Institute of Social 
Sciences, Bombay - - - - 199 

APPENDICES I, II & III, Personnel, Expenditure, and 

Management of a Beggar Colony - - 285 

APPENDIX IV Beggar Legislation in India - - 247 


Every social problem that we encounter demands of us 
a solution ; but a practical solution can be arrived at only 
through an intelligent understanding of the nature, extent and 
root causes of the problem. The beggar question is no excep- 
tion to this rule. While the beggar in India has always been 
an object of charitable attention, the beggar problem as such 
has seldom been a subject of rigid scientific inquiry. No doubt, 
there have been a few local studies and regional investigations 
but no definite research has been conducted on the problem in 
its entirety and proper perspective. 

r* There are some fourteen lacs of persons in India whose 
sole means of subsistance is begging. This huge army is com- 
posed of both sexes and of different physical and mental traits. 
There are those who are able-bodied but lazy and prefer to live 
by begging, and there are those who are unemployed and must 
perforce depend on others for support. Then again, there are 
religious mendicants who have taken a vow of poverty or find 
dependence on charity an easy way of making a living. But 
these are not all ; there are the disabled ones the blind, the 
crippled, the deaf-mute as well as those who are mentally 
deficient and others who suffer from numerous horrible and 
loathesome diseases and the little children, with and without 
parents, who are victims of neglect or exploitation. 

(Jin this volume anjattempt is made to deal with the different 
aspects of the question ij^rder t^^ ortfie 

beggar aftd ^ffie"^ beggaF problem. { It is assumed that the 
"ueh a ur3eiTT6"Tui5self as he is to society. 
Perhaps for" its own sake as well as in the interest of humanity, 
society should bear a greater share of responsibility in providing 
for his care or treatment, for this purpose it is necessary to 



have a scientific appraisal of the subject as a whole. Therefore, 
the problem is studied here from different angles by writers who 
are specialists in their respective fields. While each chapter 
has unity and individuality of its own which accounts for slight 
overlapping in some places it is here linked up to the others 
in a series of comprehensive progressiveness. 

Writing on the types of Indian beggars, Dr. Cama gives 
us some fifteen categories under which they may be grouped. 
Although her study of exploited child and of the physically and 
mentally defective exposes the unnatural and repulsive practices 
and conditions prevalent among the beggar population, it brings 
out clearly the needs of each type, an understanding of which 
is necessary for tackling the problem scientifically. "Beggary," 
says Pr, Jtfukerjee, "is a symptom of social disorganization." 
The major factors making for its prevalence are to be found, 
he points out, in the breakdown of the socio-economic structure 
of the country. 

As one without any means of self-support and existing upon 
the charity of others, the destitute develops some distinctive 
mental characteristics, and the late Dr. Sen Gupta gives us_a 
psychological analysis of the beggar personality and shows that 
"the beggar exhibits a certain deficiency in durable emotional-idea- 
tional-motor orientation to the situations that daily life preci- 
pitates", and that he represents a case of mental atavism and 
a throw-back to an earlier social order. Whatever the root 
cause of this problem, the beggar profession is a social evil. 
Dr. Das Gupta is of the opinion that from the point of view 
of public health, beggars with communicable diseases are a pro- 
lific source of infection and in consequence they are a menace 
to the health of the public^* In spite of it all, these people are 
allowed to wander about from place to place, to grow in numbers 
from day to day and organize themselves into a profession. 
Mr. Bhatia, who has carried out an investigation into this aspect 
of the beggars' group life, points out that they tend to evolve 
into a highly systematized units with administrative machinery 
of their own. Such associations exist in various parts of India. 
In tackling the begga? problem, it is necessary, he maintains, 



to attack the units of which they are a part and reorganize them 
for productive effort. He thus brings to light an aspect Which 
is not commonly known or recognized. 

Though the problem of the- disadvantaged and under- 
privileged is not a new feature of our social life, yet it has, in 
modern times, increased both in extent and intensity. Dr. Moorthy, 
therefore makes a historical survey of pauperism and points 
out that while individual charity and State aid played a great 
part in caring for the destitute, the socio-economic structure of 
ancient India minimized begging and distributed equally the 
incidence of relief. Now that the old structure has all but 
broken down and State help has disappeared, the problem has 
become more aggravated. The beggar now depends almost wholly 
on indiscriminate charity which encourages thousands to join 
the legion of paupers and destitutes. 

Is it desirable, one may ask, to make such large numbers 
of people depend for their living on public charity? If we 
have to maintain them, is tliere no other way less demoralizing 
and more scientific than unorganized alms-giving? Both 
Dr. Mehta and the late Dr. Titus answer this question at length 
from different angles. The present method of giving relief 
not only is far too intermittent to be of any abiding value but 
makes the diseased poor move from one locality to another 
spreading infection. Further, it encourages hoboism and idle- 
ness, and derpives the nation of some of its manpower. Never- 
theless, the idea of giving alms has a mighty hold on people 
because of the sanction of religion. It is pointed out that in 
all early societies the salvation aspect of charity was emphasized 
as far as the giver was concerned but tlmt the receiver of the 
gift was not treated as a personality. 

In the West the growth of cities, rapid industrialization, 
spread of democratic ideals and changes in social and religious 
life have all brought about new conceptions of charity and new 
techniques of dispensing it. We too must introduce modern 
methods, re-orient our charities and vitalize our social services. 
Dr, Mehta makes out a case for the rationalization of our beggar 
relief. Charity, he declares, needs to be guided along scientific 


lines. For this purpose proper agencies should be set up to guide 
the giver and the receiver alike. A well organized system of 
scientific philanthropy will help greatly to reclaim thousands 
from a life of dependence, and make them self-supporting and 
self-respecting members of society 

Is it not possible, some may ask, to abolish beggary through 
legislation? In some of our cities the law empowers the police 
to apprehend any one who asks for alms. But mere arrest of 
such a person is no solution of the beggar problem. It is as 
useless to have laws without proper Homes to detain and re- 
habilitate beggars as it is to have Homes without legal authority 
to commit them to such institutions. Therefore, it is imperative 
to have legislation as well as Homes or Colonies where beggars 
could be received, classified and treated according to the needs 
of each individual case. In the absence of such machinery, 
beggars have no option but to resort to begging, and laws can- 
not but be ineffective. Dr. Bulsara deals with this aspect of 
the problem and gives an interesting and detailed scheme with 
an approximate estimate "of expenses for running a colony. 

A good scheme such as the one formulated by him can 
be effective only if it is backed by proper legislation. Hence, 
Mr. Barnabas gives us a critical account of Vagrancy Acts in 
some of the Western countries, and of the statutes relating to the 
prevention of beggary in the various Provinces and States in 
India. Further, he suggests salutary changes in the existing 
beggar legislation to make it more useful. In addition to 
statutory provisions, it is necessary, as has already been pointed 
out, not only to start beggar colonies but also to direct the 
present individual charities along institutional lines. 

Modern industrialism has brought in its trail manifold risks 
and hazards which are daily increasing the problem of poverty 
and dependency in India. Much work is being done in other 
countries in the field of social security, but in India the workers 
and their families are badly neglected with the result that many 
of them become destitutes. Therefore, Dr. Kumarappa makes 
a plea in the concluding chapter for social insurance against 
industrial disability, superannuation, maternity risks and such 


bther ills to which the poor in general and the workers in parti- 
cular are exposed. While social security measures will go a 
long way in minimizing pauperism, only a thorough reorganiza- 
tion of our social and economic life, he believes, would help 
ultimately to eliminate beggaryli^ 

>X, No claim is made here for an exhaustive treatment of the 
subject. Nevertheless, it may be stated that this is the first book 
of its kind, bringing together a lucid analysis of the problem by 
writers who have made a deep study of its different aspects. 
These chapters were originally written by them as articles for 
The Indian Journal of Social Work of June and September, 
1943. In ^ r iew of the demand for them and of the importance 
of the subject, it was decided to put the articles together in 
book form. Most of the chapters have been revised and illus- 
trations have been added. Our thanks are due to the authors 
for revising their contributions and giving us permission to 
reproduce them. It is hoped that the ideas and suggestions 
contained in this volume will stimulate and provoke thought. 
If these pages provide food for riper deliberation and effect- 
ive social action to control and prevent beggary, our efforts 
will not have been in vain. 

15th January, 1945. J.M.K. 




In our country beggary has become a gigantic problem. 
To find a satisfactory solution to this it is necessary first to 
undertake a scientific analysis of the various types of beggars. 
Therefore, the author Dr. (Miss) Katayun H. Cama discusses 
here the principal types with their sub-types in the hope that 
it will stimulate the social worker to approach this problem 
intelligently by making a more intensive study of the nume- 
rous types of beggars that exist in India and then adopt measures 
of rehabilitation suited to their several needs. 

PERHAPS the most sinister of all social ills, or shall we say 
* evils, is beggary. \It is not without reason or deep 
thought and serious study that A. M. Biswas, the 
Founder-Superintendent of the Refuge for Beggars at 
Calcutta, has remarked, " the status of a place can best be judged 
by the number of its beggars, " It is a curse not only in respect 
to its immediate effect on\its victim but it is the root of nearly 
every other social evil as well. jfreggary ^. Qns ^^g s a ver y 
complex social problem^ It leads t6 physical dCi^lOTationi 
mental incompetency, preventable disease and starvation, and 
wrecks lives by forcing them into crime, mental abnormalities, 
family maladjustments, and social irregularities of 
description. As it is vitally interrelated with other Social proble 


like unemployment, intemperance and poverty, its right 
solution requires the utmost care on the part of social workers 
and students. Indeed, beggary has assumed such gigantic 
proportions in India, that only a well-studied scientific approach 
may help us to arrive at anywhere near the beginning of a 
solution of the problem 'in its hydra-headed aspects. Some 
of the questions that baffle the sociologist are : Why does 
beggary persist? What are_jhe fundamental causes of the 
Can it be eradicated or isTit to remain with 

mankind for ever? No satisfactory answer has yet been found, 
Yet, we know in part at least where the cause lies, but have 
been powerless, for some reason or other, to strike at it or to 
remove it. As no fruitful attack can be made on the cause, 
nature, prevention and cure of this serious social disease 
without fully understanding the variety or classes of beggars, 
it will be well for us to start with a study of the types of beggars 
that infest our society. 

Beggars have been classified according to varied categories. 
The lay person usually associates the idea of begging wfth the 
unutteraoly ;poor, the disabled, the blind, the crippled and the 
diseased who seek assistance or charitable contributions. In 
Western countries where begging is not as acute a problem as 
it is in India and China, the classification of the type of beggars 
is rather limited. Irwin St^, John Tucker 1 divides_them into 
three groups hoboes, tramps and * bums '. According to him, 
** A 'hobo is ft migratory worker. A tramp is a migratory non- 
worker* A * bum ' is a stationary non- worker '*, Somewhat 
more different than this isAnderson^^lassification into seasonal 
labourers, migratory casual labourers, migratory non-workers, 
non-migratory casual labourers and * bums *. In his opinion the 
4 btftns* are the lowest of all the types of homeless men. They 
include alcoholics, drug addicts; old, helpless and unemployable 
men, the most pitiable and most repulsive of all the u down 
and outs '". 'They are stationary non- workers who gravitate 
between the fodt-paths and the jail, living on the charity of 


1 World Tomorrow. 6: 262, 1028, 

2 Anderson, Nels, The Hobo, p. 265. 


their fellowmen. The beggars and petty thieves Among the 
4 bums ' are the most conspicuous of the homeless men. From 
this classification it will be seen that the reference is to homeless 
men rather than beggars and that the type, Scale and seriousness 
of begging as it exists in India is not even dreamt of. These 
homeless men in Europe and America present? a far different 
picture from that of the beggars in India who grovel in stark 
naked poverty, starvation, filth and disease. Means of 4t getting 
by " vary greatly with the different types of homeless men 
in the West. The hoboes work at odd jobs like those of dish- 
washers, potato peelers, waiters, janitors while in the city, and 
of lumber- jacks, teamsters, harvest hands while in the country. 
The non-migratory casual labourers depend a good deal on begging 
either openly or under the guise of peddling pencils, shoe-laces 
and such other articles. Sometimes they sell cuff-links, collar 
blittons, cheap eye-glasses and watches, " putting on a stunt " 
or making a speech to draw a crowd. Some of them pretend 
to be sick, deaf and dumb, blind or crippled. Others indulge 
in soapbox oratory and sell papers or books on the labour 
movement and pass the hat for their own benefit. Others exploit 
younger children making them sing or recite a piece with a view 
to making a sentimental appeal. Some make a speciality of 
exploiting the charities, while & considerable number try to 
gain sympathy by appeal to the clergy, the trade unions, fraternal 
organizations and the like with a " hard luck " tale. They beg 
and borrow from each other. They also rob each other, taking 
particular advantage of the man who is asleep or druni; . In 
mild weather they sleep in parks, vacant houses, box cars or 
in the open. In the winter they make themselves at home in 
railway depots, doorways, mission floors and pool rooms. They 
walk the streets at night and find a place to doze through the day. 
They beg openly on the street or shamefacedly at back-doors. 

The downward steps in the demoralization of the homeless 
nian. are likely to be somewhat as follows : (1) Inability to 
find regular work, (2) extended period of unemployment, 
(8) travelling in search of a job, (4) after a time travelling without 
working much, (5) wandering without working at all except 


as a last resort, and (6) ultimately settling down in some city 
to Jive .by begging. Thus we find that there is always the 
possibility of the regular workman becoming a hobo, the hobo a 
tramp and the tramp a * bum *. In England this class of homeless 
men are called " incorrigible rogues and vagabonds ". The 
beggar in England is described as consisting of " every person 
wandering abroad, or placing himself or herself in any public 
place, street, highway, court, or passage, to beg or gather alms, 
or causing or procuring any child or children (under 16) to do 
so ". It also comprises " every person wandering abroad and 
endeavouring, by the exposure of wounds or deformities, to 
obtain or gather alms or endeavouring to procure charitable 
contributions of any nature or kind, under false or fraudulent 
pretence ". It would be both profitable and interesting to study 
the measures adopted by England, America and the various 
European countries to combat the problem of begging and to 
meet the needs of these homeless men including the hoboes, 
tramps and " bums ". But as such a study does not come within 
the scope of this chapter we shall proceed by way of contrast 
to examine the types of beggars existing in India. 

The types of beggars in India may be classified and 
considered under the following categories : (1) The child beggar, 
(2) The physically defective, (3) The mentally defective and 
mentally ill, (4) The diseased, (5) The able-bodied, (6) The 
religious mendicant, (7) The bogus religious mendicant, (8) The 
tribal beggar, (9) The employed beggar, (10) The small-trade 
beggar, (11) The temporarily unemployed who are employable, 

(12) The temporarily unemployed who are unemployable, 

(13) The somewhat permanently unemployed who are employable, 

(14) The permanently unemployed and unemployable, (15) The 
permanently unemployed who are viciously or incorrigibly 
unwilling to work. \ 

This is by no mfcfens an exhaustive or complete list of the 

types of beggars as each broad division implies several sub* 

iivisions. Nevertheless, it is somewhat helpful inasmuch as 

t gives an idea of the complexity of the problem and helps thfc 

jocial worker to view the problem in its proper perspective. 


The Child Beggar. It is no exaggeration to say that the most 
heinously victimised and exploited of the beggars is the child 
beggar. The child beggar may be a paid or unpaid assistant 
to an adult beggar. When he thus assists his parents or relatives 
his only reward is days of wandering and starvation and the tinkle 
of the copper coin in his bowl. Very often a child is just left 
on the streets to die, or often, if he happens to remain alive, 
to fend for himself. Such a child out of sheer destitution takes 
to begging until he is brought by the police to the Remand Home 
and committed to an institution for the protection and care of 
children, or to a certified school in the provinces where such 
institutions and schools are provided either by the Government 
or by the public or by some bodies or societies interested in the 
welfare of children. In many provinces and native states of 
India no such schools, institutions or societies exist, and the 
child is allowed to beg and roam the streets at large until in 
his* adulthood he automatically merges into the incredibly vast 
army of professional beggars. Among other child beggars are 
those who are born defective, and those in whom the deformity 
is intentionally and knowingly caused by the parents for 
their own profit. The arm or leg is twisted after birth and 
the child is paraded in the streets to draw the maximum amount 
of sympathy. Others wilfully neglect to nurse the child until 
he appears to be on the point of death so that the public moved 
by the emaciated, anaemic and death-like appearance may pour 
out their nickels and coppers. Very often these parents are 
only too thankful if the child is congenitally deformed. Such 
parents look upon the child not as a human being, but merely 
as an object for arousing pity. The life, welfare or death of 
the child has no meaning in their scheme of existence* If one 
such child does, they are ready to produce many others equally 
defective or more so. Then there are the feeble-minded who 
fall an easy prey to the machinations of the most unscrupulous 
riffraffs and sink to the lowest level of beggary and degeneracy. 
Iii contrast to the feeble-minded children are the perfectly norriial, 
aftd intelligent children who openly and brazenly beg in the 
streets, trams, trains and railway stations. They either sing 



or pretend to be blind and crippled. Others who work as 
hoe*shine boys often accost the public for alms, and still others 
do So under the pretence of selling some nick-nacks. 

To illustrate how cruelly and in what various ways children 
are exploited, I may take the liberty of quoting a few passages 
from a speech given by Mr. K. M. Munshi (the Ex-Home Member 
of the Government of Bombay), under the auspices of the Tata 
Graduate School of Social Work : 

* *' But beggary would not be a profitable trade if there were 
no children to attract the customer's attention. The beggar 
child, therefore, is the most valuable asset in the trade ; and as 
such is sold, bartered or mortgaged. The ordinary price at 
which a blind child can be bought is Rs. 5, that of a crippled 
one is Rs. 3. Some years ago I came across the case of a child 
which had shells put into its eyes to look like blind. 

** What about the poor child? It is beaten, thrashed^ 
branded into learning the arts of attracting your sympathy- 
Near the General Post Office a little boy, a short while ago, 
attracted the generosity of passers-by by piteous importunities. 
After hours of crying the boy would gt tired ; the guardian 
who sat a little farther away branded the child's hand by a lighted 
bidi whenever the child's strength to whine failed. The man 
was caught red-handed and the child when examined confessed 
that for months together every day when its voice failed it was 
treated with the stimulant of being branded. 

. * 4 Crippled children are also parked out in the city to beg. 
So-called upcountry orphanages also bring stray children and 
train them to beg in the city to collect funds for their institutions. 
Two mentally defective girls were found to have been trained 
to dp monkey tricks in the streets for money. Once street 
acrobats dangled children by their hair as they walked pn tight 
rope ; in one case an year old baby was swung by rope round 
its neck as the woman acrobat performed on the rope* 

u Th$re was one case of a boy who was trained to be* deaf 
and .dumb. Jn the Remand Home after seven weeks he gave 
up his training and was found to be quite sound. On one day 
t the Children's Aid Society the deaf and dumb boy spoke, 



the blind one saw and the lame one jumped: a ifiiracle whifeh 
the prophets of old could envy ! The child is thus an article 
of trade. 

" Then again take another form of child slaVery. Not 
far from where I am addressing you there are children, boys 
and girls, employed in brothels as menial servants; Throughout 
the night they fetch things from Irani shops to their employers 
and only when the Vigilance Branch of the Bombay City Police 
raids a brothel such children are reclaimed from the life of 
drudgery and vice to which they have been consigned. 

" Another form of child trade in the City is that of the 
* Champiwalas \ the professional masseurs. Most of such boys 
are brought out from Northern India to slave for their employers 
and satisfy the homosexual instincts of the under-world. They 
ply their trade after midnight, these poor victims of homo- 
sexuality and venereal diseases. In one night 25 ckampi boys 
were brought for admission to the Children's Aid Society. They 
were all from Sialkot and worked in groups for men in the worst 
areas of the City. The employers arranged for the boarding 
of these boys and lived on their wages. 

" There is another form of child slavery in Bombay which 
is literally shocking. Tender girls or boys from Goa, Mangalbre 
and some other South Indian towns areJmported into Bombay. 
Their age is sometimes, .seven and they are employed 'on a 
salary of Rs. 2 or 3 per month.- The child slaves from early 
morning till late at night, often the only servant of a large 
family. It has no friends or relatives. If it fails to carry 
out any of its numerous duties or gets ill, it is punished cruelly 
often by being scalded with hot water or branded with tongs 
or live coals ; and is a victim for the sexual rapacity of any male 
adult in or attached to the master's family. " 

Most of these cases which Mr. Munshi has taken from the 
records of the Children's Aid Society, Bombay, show cleariy 
how totally different and much worse off the Indian child beggar 
of the 7 or 8 types touched upon here is when compared with 
the dependant and neglected children in Western countries. < 

The Physically Defective.-^ Among this type of beggars 'may 


be classed the blind, the deaf-mute, and the crippled and deformed. 
Besides these, there are the chronically under-nourished and 
those afflicted with various organic troubles, or weaknesses 
of the vital organs- Of the first named three outstanding types 
of physical handicaps, blindness seems to be the surest passport 
to the sympathy and purse-strings of the public. The erring, 
misguided and so-called charitably minded persons dole out 
their pennies to the blind so readily that the latter find it much 
easier and much more profitable to beg than to take to some 
industry after training and re-education. Neither the public 
nor the beg nr seems to care for the schools or institutions for 
the blind. These institutions are hardly ever taken advantage 
of by the congenitally blind beggar and the one who becomes 
blind in old age. 

The deaf-mutes again can easily be trained and absorbed 
in some industry or agricultural labour, but they too find the 
profession of begging much more remunerative. Very little 
thought has been given to the prevention of blindness and 
deaf-mutism as the blind and deaf and dumb are regarded as so 
handicapped from birth and the factor of later acquisition of 
these defects through accident, disease, old age or serious illness 
is ignored. There are many who can hear but cannot speak 
and several who can speak but cannot hear. Yet these are all 
indiscriminately classed as poor, handicapped, helpless persons 
fit only to beg. This attitude has encouraged begging to such 
an extent that many bogus beggars pretend to be blind, deaf 
or dumb, or both deaf and dumb. 

The crippled and disabled constitute another very important 
sub-section of this type of beggars. The crippled must be 
distinguished from the disabled as those who are crippled in the 
sense of being dismembered, form a minority of those who are 
disabled. The Division of Re-education of the Minnesota State 
Board of Control has defined a disabled person as " Any person 
who by reason of physical defect or deformity whether congenital 
or acquired by accident, injury or disease is, or may be expected 
to be, totally or partially incapacitated for remunerative occu- 
pation ", The problems presented by the disabled child and 


disabled adults, while alike in many respects, differ in others. 
Most of the disabilities of children arise from diseases which, if 
treated in time, can often be cured. Some of the commonest 
causes of disability among crippled children are : Infantile 
Paralysis, T. B. of the Bone, Spastic Paralysis, Cardiac defects, 
Rickets, Amputations, Congenital defects, Osteomyelitis, Arthritis, 
Obstetrical Paralysis, Sleeping Sickness, Accidents. 

With the adults, injuries are more frequently the results 
of accidents* and there is less possibility of cure. Nevertheless, 
both require medical and surgical attention and care. The 
child needs special provision for his education while the adult 
frequently needs re-education. Among both adults and children 
are found those who may be expected to recover with little 
or no lasting handicap and in both groups are those who, by reason 
of congenital defects, amputations or paralysis, will always be 
disabled. Yet no crippled or disabled beggar in India ever 
dreams of seeking surgical or medical aid. In fact, he considers 
it his special advantage and privilege to beg and as mentioned 
above, not infrequently he actually causes the child to become 
crippled. Any loss or deformity of leg, arm, hand, foot, eye 
or sight is at once welcomed as an asset and exploited to the 
fullest to earn a livelihood by begging. Such are the perversities 
of the fraternity of the physically defective beggar and such 
the ignorance of the public who go on giving them alms instead 
of utilizing that very capital for establishing special institutions, 
hospitals and schools for medical, surgical and educational 
treatment of these handicapped individuals. 

The Mentally Defective and Mentally III. This type of 
beggars include the feeble-minded and those suffering from mental 
disorders. The feeble-minded may be variously grouped* On 
the basis of I.Q., Davics has suggested that " the nearest approach 
to a satisfactory definition would combine both the psychological 
and social elements and indicate an intelligence quotient below 
a certain level plus a certain deficiency in other personality 
traits leading to social inefficiency, as determining factors in 
constituting mental defect* "* On the basis of pathological 

I DavievS. P., Social Control of the Feeble-minded, p, 21. 


conditions in the nervous system and other parts of the body, 
the feeble-minded may be divided into (I) the microeephalic 
(those with abnormally small skull), (2) the hydrocephalic (those 
with enlarged skull and propularly known as having water in 
the brain), (3) the paralytic and (4) the traumatic. On the 
basis of educational possibilities the feeble-minded are divided 
into those requiring (1) asylum care, (2) custodial life and 
perpetual guardianship, (3) long apprenticeship and colony life 
under protection, and (4) training for a vocation. On the 
basis of economic criterion the mental defectives are divided 
into three major groups : idiots, imbeciles and morons. Hardly 
any attempts have been made in India either to find out the 
number of feeble-minded, or to group them according to any of 
the criteria mentioned above, or to isolate them, or to locate 
them, or to institutionalize them, or to provide for their training 
and care with the result that the menace of the feeble-minded 
is getting worse. The mentally defective constitute a large 
proportion of the destitute, immoral, delinquent and criminal 
population among the beggars, and transmit their defect to their 
progeny. Yet our people seem to take no interest whatever 
in the problems presented by our mental defectives. In fact, 
most of them seem to be blissfully ignorant of the existence of 
any such problem at all. 

If our people are indifferent to and ignorant of the problems 
of the feeble-minded beggars, they are still more apathetic to 
and ignorant of the problems of those suffering from mental 
disorders. Mental disorders such as maniac-depressive psychosis,, 
involutional melancholia, dementia praecox, paranoia and the 
like are hardly ever known or thought of. Any person behaving 
queerly in the streets is considered insane and any manifestation 
of any of the above-named disorders is attributed to " insanity ". 
Many beggars with mental disorders are allowed to rot in the 
streets and to lead an animaMike existence. Such a beggar 
may sit in one place for days together urinating and defecating 
in the self -same place, and he may be covered with lice, germs, 
mosquitoes, flies and other vermin until some crow comes and 
starts pecking all over him* Ibut no one takes $ny notice of him. 



Only when a beggar goes violently insane is he taken into custody 
and brought to the mental hospital. It really is a sad commentary 
on a nation that such a state of affairs should exist and such 
revolting and sordid sights should be seen and tolerated. 

The Diseased. Even more disgusting than the sight of the 
mentally deranged beggar is that of the beggars suffering from 
acute stages of venereal diseases, leprosy, epilepsy, T.B. and 
skin diseases. What is most inconceivable is the fact that 
hardly any attempt is made to segregate them, and they are 
allowed to move freely in the streets, hotels and trains to beg, 
no matter at what highly infectious stage the disease may be. 
Sociologists in India often rave about the high rate of mortality, 
but one wonders that there are not more deaths than at present 
considering such unpardonably poor control of preventable 
diseases. A great deal can be done if a nation-wide programme 
of prevention and cure of such diseases were adopted, but there 
is no education of public opinion in this direction and the diseased 
beggar hardly ever has recourse to the hospital as even the disease 
is exploited by the beggar as a means for getting alms from the 

The Able- Bodied. Much less nauseating but far more 
exasperating is the able-bodied beggar. This type considers 
begging its birth-right and bullies, harasses and troubles the 
public into giving him alms. If a person happens to turn a 
deaf ear or to remonstrate with him for not working even though 
physically fit, he will turn round and use such abusive language 
that the person retires within his shell and makes up his mind 
never to address a beggar again. If offered a job he will flatly 
explain that he is ancestrally a beggar and as he has never worked 
in his life, his bones are stiffened and his constitution will not 
allow him to work. If caught by the police and sent to a home 
or work colony, he will abscond the very next day saying he has 
never lived within walls and must roam freely in the open. He 
thinks it is his ancestral birth-right to pester the public and 
that no one has any authority to interfere with that right. No 
amount of change in sociologic and economic viewpoint and 
system will affect him as he simply refuses to work, however 



attractive the wages and terms offered may be. Nor are 
enactments adorning the statute book any good. What is needed 
is a thorough and efficient machinery for the enforcement of 
the legislation prohibiting begging and the following up of a 
constructive programme after the arrests have been made. 

The Religious Mendicant. In a country like India inhabited 
by millions of Hindus and Mohamedans whose religions sanction 
the founding of mendicant orders, the solution of the beggar 
problem becomes well-nigh impossible. The beggar question 
will never be finally and thoroughly solved till the religious 
heads of these two great communities co-operate whole-heartedly 
with the Government, the Municipality and the social work 
agencies. So familiar is the figure of the Sanyasi, the Yogi, 
the Sadhu, the Vairagi, the Fakir and the Darvesh in India with 
all the paraphernalia of saffron robe, wood-bead-necklace, bowl 
in hand, etc., that it hardly needs any elaboration. 

The Bogus Religious Mendicant. Seeing the readiness and 
almost spiritual devotion with which people dole out food, grains 
and money to the genuine religious mendicant, many an able- 
bodied layman who has no affiliation with any religious order 
whatever but likes to get on without work dons the garb of a 
Fakir or Sadhu and profits by the generosity of the unsuspecting 
and religiously minded orthodox people. It is practically 
impossible to distinguish between the genuine and the bogus since 
indiscriminate charity encourages this type of beggars. 

The Tribal Beggar. Far different from either the genuine 
or bogus religious mendicant is the tribal beggar. These tribes 
move about from place to place singing and reciting poems, and 
begging ; and they are quite welcome in certain parts of India. 
This type with its traditional songs and poems is unusually free 
from the viciousness of the city beggar. They correspond more 
or less to the minstrel and arc vastly different from the various 
criminal tribes and gypsies who travel from one town to another 
in caravans and who are notorious for begging, thieving and 
dacoity. Very few places in India have criminal tribes settle* 
ments ; and these beggars wander from province to province 
establishing colonies and camps wherever they happen to halt 



or settle temporarily. When they come to the large cities they 
and their children live by begging and petty thefts. Some of 
the men folk try and obtain casual work whenever they can. 

Among this class of tribal beggars may also be included the 
seasonal vagrant and the permanent vagrant. The seasonal 
vagrants comprise those migratory casual labourers who work 
on the fields or on some trade or craft in their native village 
during the season and in the oil' season migrate to larger cities 
where they live on foot-paths or open maidans, and maintain 
themselves by begging or stealing. They seldom find work 
and even if they do, they are incapable of sticking to one job 
and before they get settled in one job, they migrate to another 
place. The permanent vagrants are the migratory non -workers. 
They are purposeless wanderers who beat their way from place 
to place, begging for food, getting along in any way they can 
and carefully avoiding rendering any useful service to the world. 
They travel in tribal caravans and lead a carefree existence 
sleeping wherever they can and eating whatever they get. Some 
of them wander continuously, others only at particular times 
or seasons and still others at irregular intervals, and whatever 
be the difference in their modes of migration, they are all of 
a class in that they are confirmed non-workers. In any scheme 
of social reconstruction this type would be the most difficult to 
tackle not only because of lack of fixed place of abode but also 
because of the utter depravity to which this class has sunk. 

The Employed Beggar. This may seem a contradiction in 
terms, but in India there are a larger number of men and women 
who work night shifts in mills and factories and go out begging 
during the day. Very often they earn more by begging during 
the day than by their labour in the factories and mills at night, 
and therefore become irregular in their attendance at work. 
The unsteady nature of the job and extremely poor wages 
often serve as an inducement to begging. Thus we have the 
curious phenomenon of the night labourer becoming a beggar 
by day. They pretend to be crippled or deformed or besmear 
their bodies with ashes and put on the religious mendicant's 
robe and go about begging as though they belonged to the class 



of professional beggars. Sometimes they are so skilled in the 
art of deceiving the public that they outdo the professional 
beggar and earn more than he does. 

The Small Trade Beggar. This may sound even more 
paradoxical than the last type, for it is hard to believe that 
anyone engaged in trade, however petty it may be, should find it 
necessary to beg. Yet it is strangely enough a fact that a number 
of beggars have made enough money to open up small panbidi, 
vegetable, flower, grams and pufted-rice shops as side business 
along with their usual profession of begging. While some 
members attend to the sales at the shops, others go out begging and 
each responsible member takes his turn at the shop and at 
begging by rotation. Perhaps there is no other country in the 
world where begging has proved so profitable as in India. This 
type of intelligent beggar makes use of his profits in carrying on 
small trade as a side line arid making greater profits. But most 
of the professional beggars beg only for begging's sake, and 
through a peculiar psychological perversity hardly ever spend a 
penny on themselves. They have never known what it is to buy 
food or clothing. Both are procured through begging and every 
pie is accumulated until their death. Thus, they lead a hand-to- 
mouth, wretched, sordid existence in naked poverty and starva- 
tion, and finally die leaving behind them thousands of rupees 
to become Government property. With them begging is an 
end in itself. It is not a means of bettering their condition or 
standard of living as in the case of the employed and small-trade 

The Temporarily Unemployed but Employable Beggar. Many 
woes of the working classes spring from irregularity of employ- 
ment and from their failure in taking the necessary steps in 
time to undo its ba9 effects. This causes their energy to become 
intermittent ; their off-days become habitual, and in the wake of 
indolence, intemperance springs up. Further, with uncertainty 
of employment comes recklessness about their future. Irregula- 
rity of employment, in its turn, is caused by fluctuations in 
trade, or by the periodic nature of certain occupations, or by 
illness, misfortune, or some exceptional incapacity. Intemperance 



and indolence are also the causes of much that goes by the 
name of want of work. These causes bring about distress among 
the working people ; and when they do not get work in proper 
time, gradually they lapse into habitual indigence which forces 
them ultimately to have recourse to beggary. This type is 
amenable to social adjustment, and if sent to the native place 
and set to work on cottage industries at the time of temporary 
unemployment, may be rescued from lapsing into indigence and 
beggary. They may also be employed on agricultural projects, 
road construction and the like as they would only too gladly 
accept any employment. 

The Temporarily Unemployed who are Unemployable. Unlike 
the last mentioned type, this type has degenerated to the point 
of becoming unemployable after a temporary period of unem- 
ployment. The low wages, the unskilled nature of the work 
and its growing irregularity unsettle habits of industry and 
at last make the men unwilling to accept steady employment. 
The conditions under which they live and work in industrial 
towns and cities contribute their share towards the breakdown 
of self-respect and personal pride. The overcrowding, lack of 
privacy and absence of nearly all facilities for decent living 
cannot help exercising a demoralizing influence. Their work 
is hard, the hours are long and the bosses order them about 
like so many dumb driven cattle. They then naturally are 
not concerned about the quality of work done and drift off the 
job. Gradually there is a decay of honest hard labour and the 
labourer deteriorates into the regular professional beggar and 
becomes unemployable. 

The Somewhat Permanently Unemployed who are Employ able. 
This class of unemployed are those who by reason of a change 
in their trade or in the market, or for some other economic reason 
find themselves threatened by unemployment, and yet are able 
and willing to work. If adjustment is not made to some other 
trade or job many belonging to this class generally become de- 
moralised and degenerate into beggars. If provision for those 
finding themselves threatened with permanent unemployment can 
be made promptly and well, before habits of idleness and the 



recklessness of discouragement have set in, the danger of breeding 
confirmed indolence, hopeless apathy and progressive degeneracy 
will often be safely averted. 

The Permanently Unemployed and Unemployable. This class 
of the unemployed is permanently out of work because, for one 
reason or another, they are too inefficient to do any type of work. 
In other words, to this class belong vagrants who are constantly 
on the look out for opportunities of obtaining food and lodging 
without giving work in return. Fceble-mindedness, mental 
diseases and various personality disorders breed this type of 
permanently unemployed and unemployable beggars. These 
include degenerates with eccentricities, epileptics, hysterical 
types, neurasthenics, persecuted and mystical types, those who 
regard themselves as apostles and prophets, and those suffering 
from schizophrenia, or drifting into senility. In a general way 
these men might be termed weaklings who having no great 
strength of character, lose their grip on life under the stress of 
some temporary misfortune. Then having found how easy it 
is to live without regular work, they lose what little ambition 
they may have had and merge into the ranks of the unemployed 
and unemployable. 

The Permanently Unemployed who are Viciously and Incor- 
rigibly Unwilling to work. To this type belong the idle and dis- 
orderly persons, rogues and vagabonds. They comprise the semi- 
criminal, vicious and confirmed idlers who habitually depend on 
doles and charity, and finally become a danger to the whole 
community. Hence the necessity of applying genuinely drastic 
measures to keep them under control. They have reached the 
lowest rung of the ladder of pauperism as the moral fibre of their 
personalities has become rotten to the core. No social and eco- 
nomic improvements, no establishment of labour colonies will 
be of any avail in dealing with this type. The only probable 
solution would be for the Government to establish Penal Labour 
Colonies. This does not, by any manner of means, imply that 
they should be treated like criminals. On the contrary, they 
need the most sympathetic care and handling. The Penal 
Colonies should be like psychiatric sanatoria where the treatment 



programme should include a balanced plan of work and healthy 
recreation, and provide for reasonable opportunities for the 
satisfaction of the most fundamental physical and psychological 
human needs ; for, it is important never to lose sight of the fact 
that these paupers, however hardened they may appear, are 
essentially weaklings. Most of them have dwindled into their 
present plight because they have not had the courage to face 
and fight the hard battles of life. They have either fled from 
certain crises in their lives, or because of some misfortune, become 
hostile to society in general and adopted anti-social ways. 

As stated above no attempt has been made to delve into 
the nature, cause and development of the problem of begging ; 
nor has any solution or constructive scheme for combating 
the social ill been suggested except as it entered into the discussion 
of the various types. Nor again, are all the numerous types of 
beggars that exist in India analysed. Some of the principal 
types with their sub-types are discussed with a view to acquaint 
the social worker with the variety of types and with the hope 
that in the attempt at solution of the beggar problem, a scientific 
and intensive analysis of the various types will be undertaken ; 
as no intelligent approach can be made to the problem without 
a proper understanding of this very important aspect. 


" By far the most frequent cause of beggary is the increas- 
ing proportion by which workers displaced from the land can- 
not find employment or subsistence," writes Dr. Radhakama) 
Mukerjee. But in addition to this displaced worker, there are 
the physically handicapped, the blind, the deaf-mutes, etc., 
who also take to begging. He, therefore, rightly demands 
that k ' the root causes be analysed and understood, and that 
society in India launch forth a programme of prevention rather 
than amelioration of human inadequacy and suffering as a 
national concern.*' 

BEGGARY is a symptom of social disorganisation and the 
widespread custom of alms-giving by individuals .and 
institutions is the method by which the disability, help- 
lessness or social inadequacy of the beggars has been Sought 
tp be mitigated, in India. Yet this very time-honoured prac- 
tjce of helping the homeless and the helpless has served society, 
to wink at the grave personal and social maladjustments that 
cause beggary. Modern conscience demands that the root causes 
be t analysed and understood, and that society in India launch 
forth a programme of. prevention rather than amelioration of 
human inadequacy and, sull'ering as a national concern. 


Obviously the most common cause of beggary in India is 
the loss of agricultural employment in the villages. For several 
decades the number of landless workers deprived of subsistence 
from the land has been steadily rising. All landless individuals 
cannot be absorbed in industrial employment. Driven from the 
villages into cities and towns, some work as earth-diggers and 
road-menders or as domestic servants and coolies in the market. 
Others prefer beggary to work that often brings less income and 
subsistence. For an Indian every profession or occupation, 
high or low, develops its inchoate social organisation, resembling 
some kind of a guild which gives protection to the new beggars, 
whether able-bodied, disabled or diseased men, women or children. 

It is the gang or guild life of the beggars in the big cities 
and towns of India that makes easy the transition from inde- 
pendent, though precarious, livelihood to pauperism in this 
country. For the gang or the guild trains persons how and where 
to beg, acts as a foster-parent to children that are deliberately 
maimed in order to evoke sympathy of passers-by in the streets, 
and, generally speaking, looks after their welfare. India has 
had for centuries this shadowy organisation which has its Sirdars 
or capitalists and a large number of intermediaries, the ramifica- 
tions of whose business extend to distant villages and hamlets. 
They arrange for beggars' accommodation in some slum or tene- 
ment and advance them food, cash or dirty clothes from day to 
day, their wage-earners bringing home every evening the hard 
day's collection of alms from the different muhallas of the city, 
so that they all have a share in the gains of this organised beg- 
gary. It is an underworld about which educated India knows 
little, a world in which there are cruel exploitation, poignant 
tragedy and sometimes noble heroism. 

By far the mbst frequent cause of beggary is the increasing 
proportion by which workers displaced from the land cannot 
find employment or subsistence. In Bihar alone there are 39.7 
lakhs of agricultural workers, the number having increased by 
19% between 1921 and 1931. These now constitute 19% of 
the total agricultural population of the province. Similarly, 
in the U. P, the agricultural labourers number about 34 lakhs, 



an increase of almost 10 lakhs since 1921. All these having 
lost holdings cannot find a regular employment either in the 
villages or in the cities and towns to which they migrate. Years 
of drought or of high prices swell the number of those who starve 
and beg for food first, it may be, in the villages or near-by towns 
and then in the distant cities. Calcutta and Bombay are full 
of migrant beggars. For the beggar often has a free journey 
by train or steamer or earns as he proceeds by stages. India's 
traditional method of charity which is enjoined by religion 
keeps him both alive and mobile. 

On the whole, throughout India, the number of beggars comes 
to a considerable figure, about 14 lakhs, as counted in the census 
of 1931, half of whom may be estimated to be able-bodied. Re- 
cently due to the increase of population, as well as general 
worsening of the economic situation, the number of beggars must 
have considerably increased, while due to the latter cause the 
wells of private charity are drying up. Though rich charitable 
merchants, land-lords, and shopkeepers still set apart some 
day or days in the week for alms-giving, an increasing proportion 
of the beggars has, however, to depend for their food and succour 
on dharmsalas, chowltrics, maqbaras and gurdwaras that still 
continue to dispense alms and food. A greater proportion of 
beggars now seen Hocking near the bazaars, important shops 
and streets cannot obtain alms as adequately as before the present 
economic stress. Yet they ply their trade of eliciting sympathy 
from householders, shopkeepers and passers-by with a patience 
born of long endurance and suffering that can be found only 
among the paupers of the East. 

The bulk of the people who are able-bodied and yet are 
driven to alms-begging are the landless. But the great majority 
of the beggars in the country are persons who have been disabled 
by physical or mental deficiency. The blind persons number 
in India 6,01,370 as compared with 1,14,000 in U.S.A. The blind 
represent 172 per lakh of population in India as compared with 
66 deaf mutes, 42 lepers and 34 insane. The deaf mutes number 
on the whole 2,30,895 in India as compared with 57,084 in the 
IJ.S.A. According to the census the lepers number 1,47,911. 



But a more reliable estimate puts down the figure at, at least, a 
million. The number of insane persons is 98,449. All these 
are staggering figures given in the census of 1931. In the census 
of 1941 the defectives have not been counted. 

Most such defectives who live in the villages are sooner 
or later reduced to beggary. The country's economic structure 
is such that it cannot afford the surplus for maintaining the 
helpless, nor are there social institutions for amelioration, treat- 
ment and constructive work. 

Few cities in India maintain statistics of beggars. In 1931 
Bombay and Calcutta reported as having as many as 5,025 and 
3,266 beggars respectively. Lucknow, we have estimated, has 
about 2,000 beggars of whom the lepers alone account for 400. 
A case study of beggars is necessary before we can definitely 
analyse and classify the unfavourable economic and social situa- 
tions that give rise to vagrancy and beggary. 

Lucknow is the only city in British India that has made 
beggary an offence punishable by detention in a Poor House 
established by the Social Service League of the city and re- 
cognised for the purpose of detention by its municipality. We 
have been keeping records of the cases of beggars and truants 
since the establishment of the Poor House in March, 1941. For 
nearly 2 years the Poor House was the refuge of the homeless 
and the helpless who came voluntarily for subsistence and medical 
care. On 16th March 1943, the first arrests of beggars were 
made in the city. There was also another round up in April. We, 
therefore, have data in respect of both voluntary entry and 
compulsory detention. Out of 38 inmates of the Poor House 
before detention was enforced, 7 were able-bodied persons. 
The majority of the inmates were disabled due to blindness, 
disease, old age and accidents. Since the enforcement of the 
Act, we have had in all 26 cases out of whom only 4 are able- 
bodied. In^all Indian cities the proportion of able-bodied beg- 
gars is of course very much larger. The reason for the small 
number of able-bodied inmates in the Lucknow Poor House 
is that the municipal announcement by beat of drum scared 
and drove away a large number of beggars from the city, 



especially the able-bodied ones. The majority of the present 
inmates are blind, disabled, diseased and feeble-minded. As 
many as 9 cases exhibit mental defect of some kind or other. 
The percentage which is 34.5 is rather high and is a matter to 
be pondered over. 

Morons, sexual perverts and emotionally unstable and insane 
persons form a high proportion of the beggar population in every 
city in India. The callousness with which modern Indian cities 
permit insane persons to go about naked and to feed on street 
garbage is disgraceful. There are also the borderline cases of 
half normal and half abnormal or subnormal individuals who 
fail to obtain a satisfactory social adjustment. Some are ugly 
looking or have suffered from hideous sores that have subjected 
them to public teasing and bullying from childhood. Rebuffs have 
driven such frustrated individuals to the underworld where they 
obtain status. All such individuals show major emotional dis- 
turbances that have made them misfits in their families and 
social situations. Driven out of their old milieu, with its group 
controls and standards, they drift into a happy-go-lucky, irres- 
ponsible life in which work and begging interpolate, with the 
latter -gradually gaining ascendancy. Some become addicts 
to opium and cocaine in order to stabilize themselves in their 
vagrancy ; others grow sentimental and accept new family 
responsibilities even as beggars by becoming foster-parents to 
children picked up from the slums where they live together. 
All such psychopathic types of beggars demand sympathy, 
scientific attention and institutional care. 

Then there are the incurables, beggars suffering from diseases 
that will kill them in the long run. Only a few cities in India, 
like Calcutta and Bombay, have homes for the incurables. Most 
Indian cities permit the incurables, who are either refused admis- 
sion to a hospital or are expelled by it, to die on the streets like 
dogs. The incurables form not a negligible proportion of the 
beggar population in every town who drag on a life of agony 
and disseminate disease. 

Among the beggar inmates it is found that the blind frater- 
nize, aiding one another in their daily rounds and pooling their 



resources. I have also found the blind marrying each other 
and their daughter who is feeble-minded being again married 
to a blind person. This perpetuates beggary as a profession. 
An old blind woman's daughter who earns as a maid servant 
in some one's household and wears a silver neck-piece appeared 
before the Revision Board for release of her mother, promising 
us that she would be supported by her work and not beg. Thus 
the Lucknow Act has served to restore family affection and unity 
even among the submerged classes. Family breakdown or 
quarrel among the parents has led to the truancy of boys some 
of whom have become our inmates. Desertion by the husband 
is also a cause of beggary of women when immorality fails to 
give them subsistence. Many beggars are engaged in petty 
theft or an a nefarious traffic in girls. Some inmates have on 
medical examination been found to suffer from venereal diseases. 
Among the -beggars who have been arrested, we have found that 
their earnings average only 4 as. per diem. The largest amount 
found in possession with them is Rs. 2-14-0. Thus the city of 
Lucknow was spending on an average Rs. 500/- a day for the 
support of its beggar population. One of them is an opium 
addict for whom the Poor House has to provide every day. 

The most difficult of the beggar cases are, of course, the 
lepers. Leprosy, with its accompanying disablement, disfigure- 
ment and .social opprobrium, is one of the principal causes .of 
beggary in India and is at the same time the most difficult to 
handle. Many lepers roam about markets, cinemas and theatres 
infecting innocent passers-by. Others are burnt-out, but it is 
.both risky .and unpopular to keep the leper-beggars in the same 
house of detention. The Lucknow Poor House is taking steps 
*Q provide special accommodation for them. 

There is another class of beggars upon whom beggary is 
enforced. These are orphans and waifs and strays who are 
ometimes deliberately maimed or disfigured in order that their 
guardians, the beggars, may earn their living. In the world 
of beggars children are mortgaged and sold in broad day-light. 
The more feorrid and the more pathetic looking the child, the 
greater is its price. And if it fails to attract the passers-by 



by its piteous cries it is tortured into more successful imploring 
and begging by their step-parents. Many normal parents also 
trade on their children's natural infirmities using these as sources 
of supplementary income. And who would take to beggary 
as the normal occupation with greater ease and alacrity than 
the children of the beggars, normal and bright or hereditarily 
tainted, diseased and stunted specimens of humanity ? Nothing 
short of a Children's Act can protect such children and remove 
them from the streets. Finally, there are the religious beggars 
whose numbers are legion and who would yet for some time 
defy detention or institutional care and treatment. 

As there are different causes and situations of beggary, the 
institutional treatment has to be adjusted to the different cate- 
gories of beggars. Thus the Poor House of a big city should 
have an Infirmary for the decrepit, disabled and diseased and 
others suffering from non-infectious diseases. It should have 
a section for lepers and other beggars suffering from infectious 
or contagious diseases. It should also have a department for 
the child beggars who must be taught to read arid write and 
become self-supporting. And finally, there should be a work- 
house or an agricultural colony for the able-bodied ne'er-do-wells 
who live by lying and black-mailing, whose example discourages 
all poor honest workers and who must be taught a new dignity 
and means of livelihood. 

* Unremunerative agriculture, poverty, unemployment and 
disruption of joint family and of caste control are the major 
causes of increase of beggary in India. India neglects 6,00,000 
of her blind, 2,50,000 of her deaf and dumb, 1, 00,000 W her insane 
and 10,00,000 of her lepers j At the same time she permits 
them to multiply without any law of sterilization of the here- 
ditarily unfit and tainted.] Private charity can no longer be 
left to deal spasmodically and without understanding the colossal 
problems of the homeless, the helpless and the hopeless in society. 
Nor should the State be chary today in accepting the obligations 
of social service through its own departments. For spontaneous 
private charity and compassion which the ancient religion and 
social code inculcate can no longer be relied upon for grappling 



with a mass phenomenon. Nor can the individual undertake 
to accomplish what institutions alone can do in respect of both 
amelioration and prevention of human inadequacy and suffering. 
To neglect the calls of organised philanthropy and institutional 
treatment is to make human life which is already so cheap in 
India yet cheaper, so that it will spill more lavishly and destruc- 
tively on all sides, transforming the Indian town-dweller into a 
more hard-hearted and cynical creature than he is today. 


In this chapter Dr. Sen Gupta analyses the psychological 
make-up of the beggar-personality, and deals with the various 
techniques and motivations behind the begging appeal. He 
maintains that the three basic tendencies that go to mould the 
beggar personalify are masochism, a dependent attitude and 
persistence of certain childhood tendencies. The writer con- 
cludes that these factors and the fact that the beggar's atten- 
tion is bound to be unstable under the double stress of variable 
emotion and the ever-variable association render the beggar- 
personality unstable for any kind of adaptation, social and 

THE Begging Appeal. The beggar banks upon the sentiments 
inherent in human nature. He subsists in an organised 
economic society inasmuch as his appeals elicit a sympa- 
thetic response from his felJowmen. Such sympathy, however, 
does not always rest on the other regarding propensities of which 
the moral philosopher speaks. The beggar's appeal often compels 
response mainly through its action on one or the other of the 
basic self- regard ing motives. It succeeds for the reason that 
man proposes to purchase virtue and spiritual reward, Punya, 
in exchange for a few coppers. Many believe that even the 



good things of earthly life may be secured through the grace 
of God granted to those who render aid to the " down and out ". 
Even a casual observation of the plaintive appeal that beggars 
send forth would bear out the truth of these propositions. 

It is, however, true that the beggar often appeals directly 
to man's compassion, to his * tender emotions ' and to his sense 
of protectiveness. The cultivation of such sentiments has been 
approved by almost all classes of religion. The subjective pro- 
cesses that the begging appeal elicits are thus sanctified by reli- 
gious doctrine and moral code. But behind all of these is the 
motive of securing social health, the impulse of the individual 
to cover up the ugly sore that social and perhaps biological 
maladjustment produce. 

The beggar thus attempts to touch the personality at all 
its vulnerable points. He appeals to your religious sentiments, 
to your sense of dependence on Divine grace when he shouts 
44 May God give you happiness " (Tumko parmatma sukhi 
rakhey, baba) ; he appeals to you as a parent when he blesses 
your children (Tumhara bal bachcha sukhi rahey) ; he appeals 
to your sense of greed when untold wealth arid even a kingdom 
is promised to you in exchange for a pice, and seeks your pro- 
tection for himself and his starving family ; and finally he tells 
you of his illness, hard luck, bereavement and utter destitution. 
The begging appeal traverses the entire region of motives from 
the lofty theological sentiments to contemptuous pity of the 
superior for the inferior, from greed for spiritual bliss to greed 
for material and social success, from love of one's own children 
to the desire for avoidance of an ugly sight. Success of beggary, 
therefore, presupposes a high degree of emotional naivete and 
some surplus cash among people in general. It presupposes 
several other motives a desire to avoid the sight of pain and 
suffering, a belief in sympathetic magic, a desire to get something 
at a low cost and a sense of superiority. A simple question 
A Why do you give money to a street beggar ? ' brought out the 
following replies ; 



No. of 

Answers. persons. 

I may be in the same position ... ... ... 8 

I feel distressed ... ... ... ... 5 

They deserve something for their good wishes ... 2 

Somebody must look after them ... ... 6 

It is enjoined by religion ... ... ... 1 

One must look beyond one's own needs ... ... 2 

I felt like giving something ... ... ... 1 

No particular reason ... ... ... ... 1 

Total 26 

The Psycho-physical Technique of the Appeal.- An attempt to 
beg in order to be effective, must (1) attract attention, (2) appeal 
to emotion, (3) impress the need of the beggar upon the mind 
of his patrons. The beggar utilises three types of technique 
in his appeals. I shall describe these under three headings : 
the variable technique, the stereotypes and the situation. 

The Variable Techniques. The meaning conveyed by begging 
appeal may be rendered more effective with the aid of certain 
subsidiary factors. The same hard-luck tale brings more coppers 
when it is associated with occasional sobs and sighs than when 
it is a continuous whine. The successful beggar must be a good 
actor ; he must vary his speech and demeanour with the normal 
procession of changes that characterise mental life. Thus 
intonation, facial expressions and general bodily posture must 
undergo alteration as they do for people in grief and agony. 
These transform the meaning that the beggar seeks to convey 
in his appeal and render the latter pointedly personal to each 
passer-by just as the actor makes the members of his audience 
feel that his elocution carries a personal message to each. A 
turning of the eyes, a slight shift in posture, slight rise and fall 
of pitch of the voice and the lines of long-dead Shakespeare 
come to life. 

The Stereotypes. The same thing is true of begging appeals. 
The old tales heard in childhood, the precepts transmitted from 


the early days of society, the myths of fairies, gods and demons 
that assume queer human shapes all stir in our breast when 
we listen and yield to the beggar's plaintive wails. The actor 
fails when his voice gives an impression of hard memory-work ; 
the beggar fails when he takes recourse to stereotypes of voice 
and intonation, of gesture and facial contortions, of bodily 
posture and movement. 

There is always a temptation for the beggar to take to stereo- 
types. Lodged on the wayside the beggar sees the stream of 
humanity pass by in a never-ending succession. He scans 
a face here and there only to meet with a blank look of dismal 
unconcern. He does not wish them to return ; each face passes 
on even as the wavelets in the stream pass on never to return. 
It is not necessary for the beggar, therefore, to try to variegate 
his voice and gesture ; they fall on new ears, new eyes and new 
minds. To render the begging appeal into stereotypes is to 
economise energy. I purchased for a two-anna piece the con- 
fidence of a familiar figure on the Lucknow foot-path : " Who 
cares for how we ask! You, the lucky ones, don't give us money 
because you feel for us. You give us a pice or two because God 
prompts you and because you don't miss what you give ". A 
strain of disdainful fatalism may be discerned almost directly 
behind the voice that begs. 

The Situation. Yet the beggar is not slow to seize upon 
special occasions and geographical situations. Once I followed 
a particular beggar from temple to temple at Benares. He 
was never loth to sing to the praise of the presiding deity. The 
same person who seemed to be a devout Vaishnava in front of one^ 
temple was transformed into a Shdkta before another. One other 
qmbarrassing trick, of some of the knights of the begging bowl 
is to pose as victims of starvation and disease just in front of 
sweet-meat shops and small hotels. Those who feel the gnawing 
of hunger are bound to relent to others from sheer fellow-feeling. 
One of these persons could form almost a bowl of his belly stopping; 
down and making an arch of the entire abdominal cavity. This 
was intended to show that his system was entirely empty of 
food. A rapid flow of words, a keen perception of the situation, 



certain forms of physical posture, like the one described above, 
and also certain common yogic postures make specialists of com- 
mon beggars. Skill in the use of the psycho-physical techniques 
of intonation and pitch variation, emotional expressions, facial 
contortions, bodily postures, the ability to match the flow of 
words with situations, and finally, quickness in the perception 
of the possibilities of an environment enter into calculation 
in making a success of begging. 

The Personality of City Beggars. The personality of the 
beggar, his temper, outlook and technique change from place 
to place. The city beggar has his own beat, own clients and 
probably a 1 so his house. He solicits a variety of patrons and 
must win success in keen competition. He must, therefore, 
be a person of somewhat higher intellectual powers. He must 
be able to direct all the weapons in his armoury to the vulnerable 
spots of his patron's personality. For instance, a beggar at a 
religious centre or on religious occasions must be able to give 
a religious touch to his garb and his ideology. He must also 
stress the relation between giving charity and the particular 
religious festival. I have heard beggars make references to 
obscure incidents mentioned in the Pur anas in order to stress 
the value of charity on the particular occasion. Another festival, 
another scene and an entirely new personality emerges. 

There are Certain places which through tradition have bred 
a specific type of beggar-personality. I have particularly ill 
my mind'the district of Nadia, near the place where Chaitanya 
Deva was born, which naturally perpetuates the tradition of 
beggary as a road to holiness. The beggars of the district are 
thus the most impertinent in the whole of Northern India. They 
are aggressive and often assume a threatening attitude on meeting 
with refusal. 

These descriptions are intended to show that the outward 
forms of the beggar-personality carry the impress of the city 
and the village, of traditions and economic settings of life. These 
are surface-characters that appear on the background of a durable 
personality-type the nature of which I propose to consider here. 
We have seen 4n the preceding sections that there is one or the 



other of the five principal motifs in the begging appeals, namely* 
(1) Religious sanctification, (2) Puny a or moral merit-making 
for better fate in the next worjd, (3) Blessings in the present life, 
(4) Compassion and (5) Personal responsibility for making 
provision for the helpless. These motives are combined into 
various forms of appeal which beggar personalities of different 
types employ. We shall describe these personalities as A, B, C ? 
1) and E type. 

To the A-type belongs the personality of the religious 
mendicant who stresses the giving of alms as a religious duty. 
The beggar is doing you a favour by giving you an opportunity 
of doing your duty. He is not asking a favour of you. This 
motive is usually strengthened by a promise of blessings that 
your act of charity will secure for you even in your present life. 
It makes for a personality characterised by both intelligence 
and vigour. 

To the T^-type belong those who stress mainly the promise 
of earthly gains and moral merit in the next world in exchange 
for charity. The personality is characterised by intelligence, 
though apologetic in its general tone. 

The C-type of personality employs the technique of the 
B-type but it stresses the factor of compassion. It appeals to 
the softer side of your nature, to your sympathy and protective* 
ness. It presents the profile of a helpless and yet clever 

The D-type appeals to compassion and expresses its utter 
dependence upon you for provision. It seemingly shows a picture 
of helplessness, utter misery due to poverty, starvation and 
disease. The feeling of utter dependence marks it out from the 
two preceding types. 

The E-type is a personality which is actually helpless, the 
cripple, the blind, the paralysed and the leper. People in this 
group sometimes mumble out their appeal. More often they 
are silent. The physical picture is enough to convince anyone 
of their needs. They are often used by cleverer persons for 
collecting charities very little of which is used for the maintenance 
of these unfortunates. All of these types are found in a 



flourishing city and require different types of treatment and 
social provision. 

The Psychological Make-up of City Beggars. We have 
attempted, in the previous part of our discussion, to derive the 
general conception of the beggar-personality from the appeals 
that are made and from the nature of the motives that the 
supplicant attempts to stimulate in his patron. It is also 
possible to deduce certain conclusions in regard to the basic 
mental constitution of these individuals. The more solvent 
members of beggars' profession possess certain characters in 
common with the confidence-trick men and actors. The more 
intelligent persons stand in fact midway between these two classes 
with respect to their mental constitution. 

Seen from the perspective of psychology many of the beggars 
are quick-change artists. Their voices change from a high 
pitched moan to almost a whining sigh ; their ideas change from 
heavenly bliss which they offer you to thoughts of a few coppers 
which they are willing to receive ; and their sentiments descend 
from the altitude of high benediction to low-level supplication. 
These are signs of great plasticity of emotions, of a large rangr, 
within which they may change in quality and intensity alike. 
Such emotional fluctuation in its turn is bound to influence 
the course of ideas. For, each emotional set releases attitudes 
and ideas of a particular order. 

It is not surprising to find, therefore, that beggars of the upper 
class can react to each occasion and even each group of persons 
with a specified set of ideas. For each external environment 
appeals primarily to the emotional instinctive side and the 
emotional set, and brings the relevant word-associations toi bear 
upon the situation. This phenomenon is sometimes, appraised 
as intelligence ; in reality it exhibits merely a highly developed 
capacity of association. It represents the character of the 4 con ' 
man, the demagogue and the upper class beggar. . I hadi an 
opportunity to test the capacity of association of a boy of 17 
who is an intelligent-looking youngster living mainly by beggary 
in the bazaar. The following results were obtained when certain 
situations were suggested. The number of associations .is 



compared to those of an average High School boy of the same 
age-group. The beggar is called A and the school boy B. Time 
given was 3 minutes for each item : 



situation ... 


ally toned 



ally toned 




i words 


Before a temple 







Bathing ghat ... 



11 6(?) 

2 3 




8 ! 



Before a house 

of festivity ... 







Each imaginary situation was suggested and the boys, one 
after the other, were asked to beg a few coppers of imaginary 
patrons wishing them well, appealing to their pity and addressing- 
words of entreaty and supplication. The beggar beat the school 
boy hollow as he was used to this art, while the school boy was 
merely straining his imagination. 

A similar phenomenon was observed in the case of three 
beggar boys who beg on the public thoroughfare of a large city. 
Each was promised that twice the amount found on each would 
be given if they participated in a * game ', Each taken apart 
from the other was asked to whine out his appeal which was 
all tlue time being taken down* Roughly speaking, the boy 
who had. earned most was found to be able to give a much longer 
chain of word-associations before he stopped for breath. I am 
also of opinion that the successful beggar exhibits a maximal 
degree of expressive changes, facial and gestural, in the course 
of begging. This would be in consonance with the hypothesis 
that -at the root of successful begging lies a highly plastic emo- 
tiorml temperament. Emotion prompts ideas on the one hand, 
and the expressive changes on the other. This would also be 
in keeping with the view that the beggar in his mental make-up 



is an adept at impersonation. He can vary his emotional set 
of words and expressions to suit the changing external conditions, 
and can lend shape to his thoughts in long chains of associations 
and to his passing sentiments in the expressive changes. 

We may deduce from the analysis that the beggar possesses 
a certain degree of intelligence which expresses itself in associa- 
tion. He does not show a capacity of abstract reasoning nor of 
thinking out problems but of sizing up a situation in terms of 
a chain of past experiences. We may say that the beggar, in 
this sense, exhibits an order of intelligence which is slowly but 
surely superseded by growth, culture, social life and economic 

We may also conclude that the beggar exhibits a certain 
deficiency in durable emotional-ideation al-motor orientation to 
the situations that daily life precipitates. Our mind lays its 
firm grasp on a situation when emotions, ideas and action -attitudes 
arc all directed to it. The passing scenes are thus ' fixed ' like 
a photographic print for present and future use. If emotions 
by shifting the ideas and action-attitudes fail in their grasp, 
perceptions do not leave a precipitate for future use. -The 
normal co-ordination of emotions, ideas and action does not endure 
largely because of a high degree of plasticity of emotions. Such 
want of co-ordination again drags down the personality below 
the level at which adjustment may be effective. 

It is possible to think of several steps below the plane at 
which social and economic failure occurs. The initiative exhibited 
by the more successful beggar may diminish ; the appeals, their 
expressions in words and gesture, may become stereotyped. The 
words may eternally repeat themselves, throwing the beggar's 
mind into a haze and rendering his picturesque language into 
a sorry drone. People cease to note and fewer coppers are 
thrown into the bowl. We can further think of the beggar as 
a whining machine which is no longer capable of soliciting favours. 
People give only for avoiding irritation and unpleasantness. 
The lesser the mental plasticity and variability of behaviour, 
the lower is the income from begging. Mental plasticity, 
variability of behaviour, and at the same time the development 



of certain durable patterns of behaviour, indicate successful 
adjustment and intelligence. The low-grade beggar represents a 
failure in both of these directions. 

Evaluation of the Mental Status. It is a persistent belief 
in the mind of virtuous people that confirmed beggars may be 
reclaimed for normal economic life. The idea is false in a great 
number of cases. The beggar, as we have seen, most often 
possesses an order of intelligence that expresses itself in the 
form of association. The processes of thinking cannot cut 
through the wall of associative experience and its verbal expres- 
sion. Whatever alters the course of association also modifies 
the course of thinking. The driving power behind a chain of 
association, as the free association method of the psycho-analyst 
has shown, is emotion. Hence, the intellectual life of a beggar 
is a weather-cock driven by emotion. 

The beggar, however, cultivates a whole series of emotions 
each quality playing its brief role and ushering in a new chain 
of ideas. Hence, attention is bound to be unstable under the 
double stress of variable emotion and the ever- variable associa- 
tion. These factors render the personality unstable for any 
kind of durable adaptation, social and economic. Underlying 
these and imparting the particular shape that the beggar- 
personality assumes, are three deep and basic tendencies, namely r 
masochism, a dependent attitude and persistence of certain childhood 
tendencies. I shall briefly consider each of these. 

Masochism is the trait that makes it pleasurable for a person 
to suffer a certain degree of physical pain. The definition may 
sound like a paradox but it represents nevertheless a fundamental 
trait of the self. We are all more or less sadists and masochists. 
The border line of normal life is crossed when the balance of the 
two is disturbed and one predominates to an unusual degree. 
The perpetual hard-luck story, the whine and the sob which 
constitute the stock-in-trade of the beggar are expressions of 
deep-lying masochism. A true sadist would not be a beggar; 
he would be a robber if physically competent, . The persistence 
in the profession so humiliating is often due to an enduring and 
dominant masochistic strain. 



Secondly, there are certain persons who are always dependent 
on some one else. It may, perhaps, be due to the manner of 
bringing up of the child or due to the social status of the family. 
It may be, in other words, an induced character. So far as the 
individual is concerned the trait is durable. Such sense of 
dependence translates men into perpetual dependents and 
therefore into beggars. The experiment has yet to be tried 
whether the child beggar could be purged of his sense of depend* 
ence. But if we cannot remove the other traits that go to build 
up the beggar-personality we may change him into a thief or a 
robber. The experiment, however, is worth trying. 

The third factor that weaves all mental functions into the 
beggar-personality is the persistence of childhood traits. This 
may be due to the manner of bringing up, early illness or a 
permanent disability. It keeps one part of the mind perma- 
nently on the childhood level. That is why the beggar always 
assumes in his appeals the attitude and terminology, and at time 
even the lisping of the child. I have observed in Lucknow at least 
six clear instances of such lisping. This part of the mind that 
forgets to grow up keeps the adult tied to the apron-strings of 
an imaginary parent. The appeal that the beggar sends forth 
is always to this parent-personality which is invested in whoever 
may come to assistance. 

The beggar-personality is thus born of certain persistent 
mental factors. These twist all the mental functions into a new 
type of personality a personality that finds pleasure in pain 
is always dependent and childlike. Naturally enough it would 
fail in economic adjustment from the very beginning. Absence 
of institutions that may correct these disorders accentuates 
these weaknesses. The individual gradually turns into a 
sub-economic and sub-social creature. 

General Conclusion. Biologists speak of vestigeal remains 
that hark back to the remote past. The appendix is normally 
harmless ; it may, however, assume a pathological form. The 
beggar represents vestigeal remains of the social past. He 
carries his intelligence very often to the plane in which men had 
to recall the entire past through association in order to discover 



a Jittle hint for new, adaptation. The tendeney appears in 
childhood where thought pursues the tortuous route of associative 
connections. It appears again in dotage when men bore their 
feljow-beings with long drawn out tales of other days. Several 
of the primitive peoples are said to dwell on this mental plane. 
The l)cggar seems to represent a case of mental atavism ; his 
is a personality that fits in better with the less differentiated tribal 
scheme in which all may claim a share for sustenance. 

The beggar is a throw-back to childhood in his sense of 
dependence and in his child-parent attitude towards his patrons ; 
he thinks like a child and feels like a child. He often employs 
all the obvious tricks of the child bent on getting something 
out, of the parent. He represents an immature personality also 
in his sentiments. He is emotionally naive and labours under 
the delusion that his own subjective states must necessarily 
infect others. He has stopped short in the process of mental 

The beggar represents the persistence of childhood trends 
in another respect. He has a profound belief in sympathetic 
magic. He believes that his curses and blessings must in the 
long run prove effective. This is not a pose. I have h^d 
conversation with more than a dozen of beggars on this point. 
They believe sincerely in the idea. This again represents a 
mental throw-back. The beggar iu the matter of his social 
adaptation represents an early social order. He belongs to tfae 
community and comes forward wherever there is a gathering of 
the community ; he has an imperfectly developed sense of Self- 
hood. The response made by his fellow-beings also represents 
certain native mental attitudes, the attitude of the benevolent 
father, the sentiment of the mother towards a child that persists 
in its demands, the attitude of the strong towards the weak. 

These sentiments and outlooks yield personal satisfaction. 
Do they solve the beggar problem? It is necessary to recl^npi 
the child beggar so that he outgrows the mental plane that ties 
him to the city bazaar and pavement. It is necessary to recjpira 
tjie adult from exhibiting his sense of dependence and his 
masochism. The task of society does not end in offering the 



needed relief alone. It must prevent the mental infection from 
spreading and affecting the growing children and the borderland 
personality. For nothing spreads so insidiously as mental 
infection conveyed by words and gestures. The end may be 
achieved only by a provision of institutions that offer to the 
beggar the environment that he needs and the treatment that may 
keep both him and society in healthy isolation from each other. 


Dr. B. C. Das Gupta deals with the main types of diseased 
beggars and shows how they serve as foci of infection to those 
that come close enough for contact. This social evil, he fears, 
has assumed epidemic proportions in some places from the 
public health point of view. In a thought-provoking manner 
he traces, though briefly, the main features of the beggar pro- 
blem as bearing on public health. 

IN big cities, at fairs and festivals in India, where large 
congregations of people occur, nay, even in some villages, it 
is a common sight to notice armies of beggars and loafers 
of all ages and sexes seeking alms and charities from people. 
Begging is not always a question of poverty nor is it altogether 
a matter of a lucrative and easy-going profession resorted to 
by malingerers and able-bodied but lazy men and women. It 
constitutes a very complex social problem at the root of which 
can be traced a multitude of causes that conspire to produce this 
remarkable individual " the Beggar ". It is also intimately 
related with other social probkms such as intemperance, un- 
employment, poverty, crippling diseases, leprosy, lack of provi- 
sion for old age, etc., so that its solution requires a good deal of 
thought and care on the part of the social students and reformers. 



Furthermore, in a country like ours, where religions sanction the 
formation of mendicant orders and also prescribe charity and 
sympathy for mankind for one's own elevation, the problem ol 
beggary assumes greater complications. 

Sentiments of charity are not, however, peculiar to India 
alone. In the Western countries too it has been urged by eminent 
writers that in giving alms enquiry as to the necessity of the 
person helped should not enter into one's mind. God does not 
look so much upon the merits of the man who requires the help 
as into the manner of him that gives, and if the man does not 
deserve it, the gift has been made to humanity. Again, another 
eminent English author advises that if an outwardly and visibly 
poor creature comes to you for alms do not stay to enquire if 
the facts of the case are true, if those in whose name he implores 
the help have a real existence or not. It is good to believe him. 
Shakespeare, the immortal poet, has sung of mercy in a tone 
of matchless beauty in the English language ; 

u The quality of mercy is not strained ; 
It droppeth like gentle rain from Heaven ; 
It is twice blessed : 
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes." 

Thus at all times in human history the sentiment of sympathy 
and charity has played a prominent part in the social composition 
of both the individual and the community alike. Even so it is 
today. Whether in all instances it fct blesseth him that gives 
and him that takes ", man has not bothered to pause and ponder. 
Hence, much of the beggar problem that subsists on such senti- 
ments continues to exist and thrive. 

Whether the root cause is economic, social or religious, or 
a combination of all of them it is not our object here to 
discuss. Neither is it our purpose to assess their proportionate 
importance in the creation of the problem,. The immediate 
object is to view this social evil which in some places, it is feared, 
has assumed epidemic proportions from the public health point 
of view. But in all investigations of health problems the causative 
factors and their peculiarities determine to a great extent the 


magnitude, the possibilities of their growth and expansion and 
finally the lines of prevention. Therefore, in discussing the 
epidemiology of the beggar problem if I may coin the phrase- 
it is but necessary that we should touch, though lightly, upon the 
types of beggars and their pathogenesis and then consider their 
full bearing and effects upon the public health of the country. 

The beggars met with in cities or in pilgrim centres may be 
classified mainly under the following heads: (1) The destitute, 
(2) the homeless aged, (8) the crippled, the maimed, the blind, 
etc., (4) religious mendicants, (5) the lepers and the diseased 
persons suffering from infectious diseases, with sores and ulcers- 
covered with plasters on which myriads of flies settle -and feed, 
(6) children trained by organised bodies or by unscrupulous 
parents into the profession of begging, (7) able-bodied but lazy 
people who roam about in the cities, beg by day, and turn into 
thieves and robbers by night and become a menace to society, 
and finally, (8) professional orphans. 

It is not possible to go into the question of determining the 
extent to which each of the above categories constitutes a definite 
menace to the public health of the locality where it is found. It 
can be stated without fear of contradiction that one of the main 
reasons why these beggars appear intolerable and obnoxious is 
that they are a serious nuisance to the people whom they pester 
with persistence for alms in the streets, at the railway stations 
and at all places where people collect. 

It is undoubtedly annoying to be bothered by beggars when 
you are in a hurry to catch a train, tram or bus, when your mind 
is occupied with serious matters of business or work, to be followed 
for miles by urchins with dirty bodies and clothes when you are 
out for a walk in fresh air. If this aspect of the beggar problem 
could be mitigated, if begging in public streets could be reduced, 
the nuisance, even though it would remain in its fundamental 
aspects, would not be so intolerable. 

As mentioned above the beggar nuisance is more localised 
in big cities, in railway stations and in the pilgrim centres. It 
is not uncommon to find, especially when travelling in the third 
class railway compartments, beggars with loathsome deformities 



and infectious diseases crawling out of the space below the seats 
when the train is in motion and all the danger of being put out 
is over. They travel without tickets by night and hide themselves 
when the train halts at big stations lest they be found out by 
the checkers and forced out of the compartment. Sometimes 
even when detected, the usual sympathy of the checker and 
also of some passengers stands him in good stead and the journey 
is continued without trouble. In most instances of beggars 
with loathsome diseases, this is the usual way they enter into 
a city, where for want of adequate law or lax working of it such 
as it exists, they settle down in this profession of begging with 
impunity. The larger the city and the population, and more 
numerous the industries, the larger will be the strength of 

Let us now consider the problem of beggars as a whole and 
see in what manner they form a menace to the public health of 
the locality. 

The majority of beggars live on slender means, and more 
often are without a home. The foot-paths of the city of Bombay 
will bear witness to this fact. A considerable amount of over- 
crowding in rooms in certain sections of the city is due to a large 
number of beggars sharing one room just for the shelter at night, 
particularly in the monsoon. When foot-paths and open spaces 
serve as shelters and sleeping places, th filthy condition created 
through absence of sanitary facilities can be better imagined 
than described. Diseases of the intestines become rampant 
and they spread without check to others in the same locality 
through flies. In spite of the fact that many of them live in 
open air, if a random survey were made of the beggars of all 
ages, it would not be surprising if a large percentage were found 
suffering from all stages of tuberculosis due to malnutrition and 
insanitary living conditions. These beggars in turn become 
definite mobile sources of tuberculosis in the city and disseminate 
the disease by indiscriminate spitting. Unlike an ordinary 
house-holder, they do not seek hospital treatment as confine- 
ment in an institution for any length of time would deprive them 
of the freedom of the trade. Moreover, the possibility of invoking 



charitable consideration on the strength of such physical illness 
is greater and hence the usual tendency on their part to make use 
of the chronic illness for securing larger alms. While this goes 
on, the danger to the public increases every day. Overcrowding, 
be it on foot-paths or in sheltered houses, leads to the spreading 
of various infections and often to low moral life ending in venereal 
diseases. Not infrequently eases come to the city-clinics for 
treatment of venereal diseases contacted from the professional 
beggars. This particularly applies to the able-bodied beggars 
who have not the remotest excuse for begging. 

It is a common experience of the city health authorities to 
find epidemic diseases among the road-side cases who, till they 
are removed to hospital, serve as foci of infection to those that 
come close enough for contact. In the early stage of some 
diseases, when the signs are not too obvious on him and the 
beggar is on his feet plying his trade, he is a veritable source of 
infection to those whom he approaches for alms. Cases of 
measles, chicken-pox, and small-pox have often occurred in 
this manner. 

I have already referred to the travel of diseased beggars 
by railroad. Infection from such beggars may not only spread 
to the fellow-passengers, but the possibilities of infection being 
imported from one locality into another through them, are great. 
These beggars acquire an infection at a fair or pilgrim centre 
and transmit it to a fresh locality hitherto untouched by the 

Old age is not an unmitigated blessing, but often from the 
point of view of the community, a serious social question. If 
there is no community programme aiming at safeguarding and 
protecting old age, it may lead to begging, examples of which 
are quite common in the cities. Although old age in beggars 
by itself constitutes no danger, this is a period of life when diseases 
of public health importance get a strong foot-hold in the individual 
and thus assume serious proportions. Cancer is a disease of 
old age and not infrequently one comes across beggars with can- 
cerous ulcers and sores seated in a crowded place imploring sAm* 
from passers-by. In a like manner, infective sores and ulcers. 


an exhibition of which ip often made in the hope of exciting sympa- 
thetic response from the public, are. apart from the question 
of their disgusting sight, definitely risky to public health. Aside 
from the danger of infection the sight of these loathsome diseases 
often produces a definitely detrimental psychic effect upon the 
mind and not infrequently causes neurosis and anorexia. 

I have already referred to the insanitary living conditions 
of the beggars in general. Insanitary condii ions lead to verminous 
state and ailments such as scabies, lousiness, relapsing fevers 
amongst the beggars, particularly in beggar children. In these 
days of war and rapid communications with different parts of 
the world, lousiness may lead to a very serious disease called 
typhus. When these beggars keep pestering the public for 
gifts and alms the danger of such infection being communicated 
to the public a cruel return for the kindness shown -is indeed 
great. Owing to insanitary conditions and habits of living, the 
gypsies and other nomadic tribes that often come in numbers 
to the cities for the greater part of the year and live by begging 
form endemic foci of diseases and sources of danger to the locality 
where they settle down in large colonies. 

Lepers whom the public loathe the most to see in streets 
and at street-corners, form into groups of beggars. They throng 
in numbers in all seasons and at all crowded places. They 
form a problem by themselves, bpth from the point of view of 
health and of the profession of begging. I shall refer to them 
separately later. 

The crippled, the maimed and the blind are a class of beggars 
who have no special public health significance, excepting a general 
nuisance owing to their insanitary conditions and habits of living ; 
they cannot be called dangerous, in this connection, it may 
not be out of place to mention the acts of cruelty often perpetrated 
on children brought up by organised begging. These children 
are rendered blind by application of drugs and intentional injury 
to the eye so as to be a richer source of income to their masters. 
In a like manner, the crippled children arouse greater sympathy 
and cases are reported where children have been crippled inten- 
tionally by injury to their bones for this purpose. 



There is another category of beggars who owing to congenital 
defects are mentally deficient and destitute. They present among 
others a problem of special public health significance. In many 
instances these poor creatures are used for purposes of immorality 
and sexual perversions. In the case of a normal child-beggar 
sexual perversion is sometimes committed under duress and at 
other times as willing partners. In the case of the mentally 
deficient, the practice of men and women frequenting institutions 
endangering child morals, is to make use of the young boys 
and girls for the furtherance of their purpose. The ultimate 
result of all this is to disseminate venereal diseases which in many 
instances go untreated owing to the fact that these mentally 
deficient children hardly realise the effect of the diseases on 
them, much less the necessity for treatment and cure. The 
effect of venereal disease not only on the individual but also on 
his progeny is too well known to require recapitulation. They 
in their turn not only cause other diseases, high infant death 
rate, but produce a generation of weak, mentally deficient and 
blind children, thus completing the perfectly vicious circle of 
aiding the cause of beggary and the swelling number of beggars. 

We have so far attempted to indicate the general and special 
manner in which the beggars of different types disseminate 
diseases and constitute a nuisance and a danger to the public. 
We have not estimated the economic loss to the community arising 
from supporting able-bodied, lazy adults and child beggars on 
charity. To me, it is a waste of national wealth to keep them 
perpetually as dependent individuals. Even if it is not a loss 
of national wealth, it cannot be denied that they are a definite 
danger to national health. 

The religious mendicants are met with more frequently at 
centres of pilgrimage and near the temples ; they are not a com- 
mon sight in the streets of the cities. The annoyance and in- 
convenience caused by such beggars to the general public is, 
therefore, much less in proportion to that caused by street beggars 
of the types described above. 

The truly religious mendicant is seldom, if ever, a nuisance 
and the chances of contracting diseases from him are extremely 



remote and rare. These mendicants are a class whose religions 
have prompted them to renounce the world and to live on alms 
just sufficient for a daily meal and no more. They possess 
nothing but the will to serve God and find Him. The spurious 
mendicant, however, is one who possesses, inspite of the apparent- 
renunciation of the world as manifested by his garb, powerful 
instincts of possession and accumulation. He goes on begging 
without end and it is he who is a source of annoyance and in- 
convenience so often met with at the pilgrim centres. Fortunate- 
ly, this type is generally localised round these places of worship 
and hence is not as acute a problem as 'the city beggar. As long 
as individual and indiscriminate alms-giving continues, these 
will remain a problem. A number of this class, homeless as they 
are, live in insanitary surroundings and owing to dirty habits 
of living are a source of danger to public health as other types 
of beggars. 

An orphan enlists sympathy of the public, particularly of 
the family man, much more quickly and easily than any other 
child beggar. The appeal is even more effective when the orphan 
can relate pathetic stories of neglect and cruelty or of death of 
parents under tragic circumstances. Immediately the hearts 
are touched and the purse strings are loosened. This fact is 
often taken advantage of by some unscrupulous managers of 
the so-called orphanages in the outlying districts. They bring 
stray children into the city, train them to pose as orphans and 
to beg for funds for their institutions. If attempts were seriously 
made to trace the existence of these institutions, in many instances 
they would end in fruitless search. It has indeed become a pro* 
fession with them and a profitable one at that. These so-called 
orphan beggars usually visit homes, institutions, railway stations 
and trains. They are not usually seen begging in streets and, 
therefore, are not as obnoxious a pest as the ordinary street 
beggar. These children generally come from distant villages or 
small towns and are let loose in the cities where diseases of dif- 
ferent nature are endemic. Their sojourn in the city is made 
under difficult conditions at as little expense as possible. In 
their attempt to save and surrender to their inexorable masters 

Mela The Beggars' f araaise. 

A Mendicant 


Hale and hearty, under the garb of religious dedication, find life easy- 
going. They go from door to door, singing religious songs and accepting 
anything, cash, eatables or clothing. 


almost the whole amount collected by begging, these children 
suffer a good deal for want of proper food and shelter. The 
inevitable result is that they become susceptible to the city diseases 
and fall a prey to them. When finally they go back to the 
villages, it is generally with money but minus their health. If 
the disease acquired is infectious, they become fresh foci of in- 
fection and spread it to others. 

Leprosy is one of the most dreaded diseases in India. Hence 
leper beggars arc the most objectionable to the general public. 
But in order to understand the causation of this problem of 
beggars with leprosy, it is necessary to view the subject from 
different angles and it is only then that the enormity of its social 
and public health significance, as also of the difficulties in remedy- 
ing the evil, can be accurately measured. 

The association of leprosy with the profession of begging 
is very ancient. For many centuries wandering beggars with 
leprosy have visited centres of pilgrimage and large cities. In 
recent years, with the development and industrialisation of our 
cities, the problem of beggars with leprosy has attained very 
large proportions. It is very acute in cities like Calcutta, Bombay 
and Madras. In Calcutta they generally live in bustees and 
quarters entirely occupied by them and the business of begging 
is well organised under a headman. In addition to receiving help 
in the form of money, the lepers are sometimes fed in large num- 
bers at certain centres by philanthropic and religious organisa- 
tions. Fortunately, however, the danger to the general public; 
is minimised to a great extent by their segregation. In other 
cities where such is not the case, they are scattered throughout 
the city and thereby increase the danger. In Bombay there is a 
Leper Asylum (Acworth Leper Home), but even at its best it can 
only accommodate a fraction of the actual number that should be 
isolated. Forced isolation has proved a failure as is seen from 
the fact that the lepers abscond in numbers. Even if they 
could be kept by force upto the fullest capacity of the institution 
or even more, their places in the streets would be taken up by 
new-comers from the provinces and the problem of leper beggars 
on the streets will continue as ever. 



In Bombay 80% of the lepers committed to the Acworth 
Leper Home by the Magistrates belong to areas outside the city 
and very often outside the province as well. Attempts were 
therefore made to place upon the districts and provinces the 
financial burden of segregation, but that too has failed to prevent 
the migration of beggar lepers into the city. In the absence of 
a co-ordinated and co-operative policy of leprosy control on the 
part of the various provinces, of registration of leper beggars in 
different parts of India, of rigid restrictions in travel, of a genuine 
desire for diverting individual charity into community chests, 
of an effective public opinion against congregation of these 
people in cities and public places and against indiscriminate 
alms-giving, the stream of beggars from smaller places to bigger 
ones will flow on for ever. 

If we were to assess fully the damage to public health caused 
by the leper beggars, it is necessary to appreciate the various 
conditions that influence the incidence of leprosy, the attitude 
of the public towards the disease and the social status of the 
people suffering from it. Leprosy is a social problem and socio- 
economic factors such as poverty, bad housing, poor nutrition 
and debilitating diseases have both predisposing and aggravating 
effects upon the individual, although it is difficult io form an 
exact quantitative, estimate of the part played by each one of 

In ancient Indian writings the attitude of the people toward 
the disease has been described in very clear language. Avoidance 
of contact with lepers has been particularly emphasised and social 
ostracism practised. Even today in certain parts of India, 
lepers are treated as social outcasts and are often compelled to 
leave their village and the state. The result is a silent and steady 
movement towards the cittes and bigger places where for want 
of other means of livelihood, they fall upon begging as the only 
resource. In these parts of India the reaction upon the healthy 
individual, when he sees a leper anywhere near him, is one of 
intense terror. Again, there are other parts of India where the 
people are entirely indifferent to leprosy, as far as social contacts 
are concerned. With them the old idea of hereditary nature 



of the disease still holds good and the belief in contagion is not 
at all strong. Both the attitudes of indifference and exaggerated 
fear are unhelpful, if not harmful, and it is necessary that a more 
rational attitude based on sound knowledge of the simple facts 
of the disease should be adopted by the public. It is often stated 
by medical people that the majority of leper beggars are merely 
burnt out cases and are not infective, while lay people consider 
all lepers as infective. Truth, however, lies midway between 
the two. 

The social position of those suffering from leprosy has a very 
direct bearing on the question of the increase of leper beggars. 
In certain parts of India and in certain communities therein the 
social consequences of leprosy are so serious that it is sometimes 
difficult for the diseased to remain in the village or to earn their 
living. If employed in industry or elsewhere, the mere knowledge 
that a person is suffering from leprosy, will bring about a loss 
of employment. Sometimes the disease may lead to partial 
or total disability and thus prevent him from earning his living 
This is how and why persons affected with leprosy tend to become 
beggars and naturally move towards localities where chances 
and prospects are better. This is true not only of the severely 
infective cases of leprosy, but often of persons who are suffering 
from a mild non-infective form which is not a danger to others. 
Sometimes employment is refused even when a medical certificate 
that the disease is arrested and non-infective, is produced. 

Let us now see how and what actual danger to public health 
results from the type of leper beggars usually seen in the cities. 
They are a mixed crowd, some in the very late stage of the disease 
often considered the worst of them but in fact the least dangerous ; 
some in an infective stage, the lepromatous type ; and some in 
the very early non-infective stage, perhaps the consequence 
of close association with other lepers in the family. The second 
group is the most dangerous, but so far as offence to the sight 
is concerned, the first and the second are equally nauseating 
and loathsome. Leprosy infection occurs as a rule from pro- 
longed contact, but. the possibility of acquiring infection from 
the highly infective cases at close but short contact cannot be 



altogether ruled out. Moreover, a patient who is non-infective 
today may pass on to an infective stage without even himself 
knowing of it. Hence the danger if beggars with leprosy are 
allowed to move about freely amongst others and particularly 
in crowded places. Whatever measures, therefore, may be taken 
should be directed against all the three classes. The public will 
then be spared not only the disgusting sight, but the disquieting 
condition and agony of mind resulting from a close contact with 
an infective leper. 

These then are some of the main features of the beggar 
problem as it affects public health. Beggars, with communicable 
diseases, such as tuberculosis, small-pox, measles, leprosy, etc., 
are at large in our country, and they congregate in cities, at 
public fairs and pilgrimage centres, travel by trains and sleep 
on footpaths in large cities at night. Helpless, mentally deficient 
children, victims of sex prevcrsions and prostitution, also spread 
social diseases far and wide. Denied any sanitary conditions 
of living, or opportunities for personal comforts which they cannot 
help snatching in open streets, avoiding law such as it exists, 
these socially disinherited unfortunates become helpless agents 
of infection throughout the country wherever they can chance 
to rest their weary heads. We have avoided detailed discussion 
of the various causes of the beggar problem and its remedies, 
as that falls within the domain of experts in Sociology. We 
have only touched on this aspect occasionally, confining our 
attention to the health aspect of it, since without reference to 
its etiology it would be like the staging of Hamlet without the 
Prince of Denmark. 


Recently Mr. Amarchand Bhatia made, with the help of a 
fund donated by Mr. liirla, a research study of the beggar 
problem in Northern India, which reveals that beggar-cum- 
traders, beggar-cum-wanderirig minstrels and a hundred such 
other masked professionals, are recruited and organized from 
all castes <tiid tribes. In this study he gives us some description 
of the different kinds of organizations which exist among 
beggars. On the basis of his findings he maintains that beggars 
evolve into organisational types, with large membership and 
with close governments of their own, and that therefore the 
problem should be tackled on all fronts. 

ONE of the fundamental mistakes made in grappling with 
the menace of beggary is that of tackling the individual 
beggar, without tackling the organization the "Beggars' 
Brotherhood*' which exploits him and thousands of others 
like him with impunity. Having not as yet fully acquired active 
self-consciousness, the individual beggar is absorbed in the life 
of the hordes, without the liberation of his ego. The calculating 
and foreseeing actionof human reason should be directed against 
this organised force. 

The Beggar Organisation aims at joint begging, pooling of 
all resources accumulated through individual or group begging, 
joint corporative household and joint worship of a u Guru " or 



" Gods ". Further, it maintains fraternal relationship amongst 
beggars coming from a particular part of the country for the 
purpose of joint defence against the lawful forces of the Govern- 
ment ; and it seeks not only to minimize the trouble engendered 
by individual endeavours but also to eliminate inimical indivi- 
duals from within its rank and file. Some of these organisations 
are loose and casual which scatter easily and willingly, and break 
many a time within a year but again come into formation accord- 
ing to the exigencies of time. Others are very strong, powerful, 
self-supporting, self-determining, authoritarian, regional and 
communal, and only very hard knocks can smash and disintegrate 

During my research work in the problem of beggary in the 
Punjab, I found that strong organisations existed in big cities 
in : (a) the colonies of beggars ; (b) orphanages ; (c) temples, 
mosques, monasteries, shrines, cemeteries ; (d) poor houses main- 
tained by " exploiters " ; (e) certain tribes living by river sides ; 
(/) labour groups living both by wage and begging, and (g) certain 
villages. Loose organisations were found amongst beggars 
hailing from Kashmir, Tibet and Afghanistan. They, " invade " 
cities in organised groups in certain parts of the year and at the 
time of important fairs. Some parties of beggars, particularly 
among Pathans, were found to commit thefts, robbery and 
kidnapping at night. 

Strong Organisations. In the beggar colonies of the big 
cities of the Punjab like Lahore, Amritsar, Jullundur, Sialkot 
and Rawalpindi, interesting instances of organisational work 
were observed. The beggars there are governed by strict ela- 
borate codes of behaviour, stern discipline and ceremonial drink- 
ing parties. 

In the colonies of Lahore and Amritsar inhabited mostly 
by Hindus coming from Rohtak, Hissar and Delhi the following 
particulars are noticeable. The head of the- colony is called the 
Chowdhry. He is the most daring of all " who can beg in the 
presence of high police and military officers, and on all occasions ". 
Under him is a board of five forming a kind of panchayat to 
distribute the booty and to control membership. Then cornes 



the bania who owns a small shop and is the accountant of the 
44 Brotherhood ". His shop is the clearing-house for stolen goods. 
He gets two annas per rupee as his share out of the earnings 
of the colonists. One-fourth out of this windfall is given away 
by him to the policeman on duty who visits the colony every 
day on some pretext or the other. The beggars have to buy 
their things from the bania and many of them remain indebted 
to him. In order to pay him they slip away from the colony 
now and then, and resort to individual begging, since the joint 
share distributed by the Chowdhry is insufficient. Otherwise, 
they move in groups. " Territories " are allotted and the groups 
go round tho city by rotation so as not to be found by the police 
and the public at one and the same place. Special " squads " 
are organised to beg at temples and mosques and go round the 
churches. * 

Different methods of begging are assigned to different types 
of persons in the colony. An old, crippled man in a small wooden 
cart pushed by a woman must accompany every big party. 
One group consisting of five or six beggars forms a singing party. 
Another group is sent to be scattered individually over the 
main roads. A blind member is brought back in the evening 
by the eldest male child or elderly woman of the family. The 
blind, the crippled and the infirm are counted as assets to the 

A party of fortune-tellers is asked to stick to one road every 
day. Amongst them some own sparrows whose particular 
movements and picking and choosing the questions, and the 
owner's answers decide the fate of the passer by who wishes to 
know his future. The story-tellers are different. They begin a 
story and end it by selling inefficacious drugs and medicines. 

A party is specially trained in the art of blackmailing 
respectable people by loud noises and uncouth words. He that 
can lash out the bloodiest oaths is computed to be the bravest 
fellow. The roarer is usually asked to go into a bazaar and stand 
in front of a shop and abuse the owner indiscriminately. After 
some time he begins giving blessings and then makes his demands. 
The knowledge of the family of the shopkeeper is obtained 



beforehand by a reconnaissance expert of the colony, and is doled 
out to the person who is deputed to " picket " the shop. Many a 
time such picketing goes on for days together till the shopkeeper 
climbs down. 

Many of these beggars are given training in keeping their 
noses, lips and ears closed by means of various devices. The 
practice lasts for one year or so. They are then sent out indivi- 
dually. So are those who can easily foam at the mouth by cleverly 
hiding a lump of soap between their teeth and conveniently fall 
into convulsions ; and those who have a genius for disguise develop 
a ponderous deformity with something elephantine in the folds 
of bandages about their legs, the stoop of the broad shoulders, 
and the repulsive and pendulous lip. Everything is done with 
considerable ingenuity, but a simpler and less painful method 
is by the use of an old rag with butter, frankincense, brimstone 
and rexin, blood and cream. Some of them (especially women), 
who can easily amputate or dislocate their arms and legs or can 
pose as being lame, are sent on special expeditions to persuade 
the credulous brandishing documents garnished with huge seals 
or signatures. They pretend as if their homes and husbands 
had been burnt and they were left destitute, or a famine, an 
earthquake or a flood had driven them to begging. 

Some mix the rust of iron with unslaked lime and soap and 
spread this over a leather strap which they then bind to their 
legs. When the strap is removed, most of the skin of the leg 
comes with it. And blood is rubbed on the sore flesh. At night 
time they retire to a place undoing the bandages of their false 
wounds, and unstiifening their sound and vigorous knees which 
had been bound up since the morning in a thousand ligatures. 
Others prepare their sore legs with celandine and ox-blood for 
the morrow. Many attend fairs and festivals in the garb of 
sadhus accompanied by ' chelas besmeared with dust '. 

Among the lesser orders of their * c Brotherhood " are those 
who have acquired the trick of doubling back their tongues 
so as to make it appear that they had been born dumb. Their 
favourite story is that they had had their tongues cut off for 
speaking disrespectfully of " Durga Mata ". In fact their 



trick is that they tie a thread to the end of their tongues and 
" communicate " this to some paste which they also swallow, 
thus drawing the tongues back and securing them. Some small 
boys are kept by the beggars on diet so that they become thin 
enough to worm through ventilators of big' bungalows easily. 
Others are taught how to keep their eyes closed throughout 
the day so that they may look blind while begging. 

These beggars have, with the proverbial subtlety of their 
kind, turned begging into a mysterious and esoteric art. If a 
beggar is a rogue, he is a jolly rogue. And he sings : 

We have great gain, with little pain 

And lightly spend it too ; 

We do not toil, nor yet we moil, 

As other poor folks do. 

We are winners all three, 

And so will we be 

Wherever we go. 

For AVC know how 

To bend and bow 

And to do what is to be done. 

Nine hundred rupees this cripple had got 
By begging and thieving so good was his lot, 
A thousand rupees he would make it, he said, 
And then lie would give over his trade. 

Thus goes the impotent cripple, nasty, ragged, lowsy, unclean, 
poor, dejected, humble, bare-legged, bare-armed, dark and 
deceitful beggar of the colony, swaggering along the streets of 
big cities. 

When the chief of a colony is installed, wine is poured over 
his head and distributed amongst the members of the assembly. 
The newly-elected chief of the colony then asks them to repeat 
with him the Ten Vows which are : 

(1) We shall obey the chief. 

(2) We shall keep faith with our fellows. 

(3) We shall keep counsel with our brothers. 



(4) We shall share in all matters of the " Brotherhood ". 

(5) We shall not hear the "Brotherhood" spoken ill of 

without seeking vengeance. 

(6) We shall share all winnings. 

(7) We shall keep appointments or attend meetings by 

day or night at any place decided on. 

(8) We shall not divulge the secret of the place. 

(9) We shall harm no fellow-beggars. 

(10) We shall marry according to the dictates of the 
panchayat of the colony. 

At the time of marriage both the bride's and bridegroom's 
party are to contribute Rs. 5-8-0 each and an equal amount is 
added by the other beggars. Meat and wine are distributed 
to celebrate the occasion. 

The chief's powers arc absolute. In one colony it was com- 
plained that, in order to increase his income, he allowed his 
daughter and wife to go to the railway clerks* quarters to earn 
their living by prostitution. But, others, though ready to follow 
his example, were not allowed to do so. 

There are colonies exclusively of labourers, who work partly 
in factories and partly on roads and streets. Most of those who 
grind salt, work with the parties engaged in the construction 
of roads and buildings and have seasonal occupations, resort 
to begging in groups when not employed anywhere. Just like 
other " colonists," they organise parties with a division of ter- 
ritories under the orders of their " head " who gets one-tenth 
of the booty brought back by an individual beggar. There is 
no pooling of resources and every beggar delivers the share him- 
self. The headman is a clever rogue and no beggar can baulk 
him of the tenth of the spoils. He keeps spies on his parties 
whom he helps in getting employment in the city. He is a 
landlord who leases his land for the construction of cottages. 
For each cottage he charges 12 annas per head in addition to 
the one-tenth share out of the earnings of a beggar. At cere- 
monies, like the initiation of members, marriages, betrothals, 
installation of goods, he also gets his due share which amounts 
sometimes to about fifty rupees. 



The Lahore Corporation has tried many a time to come to 
grips with one such " head " but he always escaped like his " bro- 
thers " to other colonies, because being a Mohammadan, if haras- 
sed, he is able to make it a communal question with the help 
of his co-religionists. The beggars, however, are mostly Hindus. 
A striking feature of these beggar-colonists is that their children 
and women are also expert beggars. In many cases the head 
of the family does not beg but the other members do it in groups. 

Some orphanages in the " big " cities of the Punjab, usually 
send their inmates early in the morning every day to various 
parts of the city as singing parties to collect alms. Some of 
them are bogus institutions and have been found many a time 
to be so by the police. Yet they spring up now and then under 
the patronage of a clever beggar-curn-trader. He is beyond the 
clutches of the law, and works with impunity. In a remote 
corner of a mohalla in the city, far off from the guards of the 
police, a few rooms arc rented in some family quarters for keep- 
ing a few children and these are sent one by one till they assemble 
in a particular street where they start begging. Hindu children 
go to Hindu quarters, the Muslim to the Muslim quarters. A 
few Sikh children are also organised but they work individually 
and not in groups. They generally collect wheat-flour, mustard 
oil and ghee but rarely money. 

The orphanages, that are registered bodies, do not encourage 
daily begging in the cities of the Punjab, but organise parties 
on ceremonial occasions, A few representatives of such orpha- 
nages, carrying locked boxes, are sent to railway stations where 
they harangue the tired travellers, and get monetary help from 
them. Many cases of bogus representatives carrying on the 
trade in the name of registered orphanages by paying some- 
thing to the ticket-collector or the police have been traced. 
Some time back the police found a gang of clever men, engaged 
in such a trade, dividing the accumulations amongst themselves. 
At their headquarters in Amritsar, a large number of fictitious 
railway tickets, and boxes belonging to certain registered orphan- 
ages were recovered by the police. Their chief had his own 
house, a palatial building, and a number of disciples working 



under him. They would go as far as Calcutta and Peshawar, 
and were alleged to be in league with 'certain railway officials 
and the Police. 

In some temples and mosques the Guru or the Pir sends 
his chclas (disciples) round the city in the morning every day 
for begging. The collections are generally his property. The 
gaddi passes on to the eldest Chela. The others stay for being 
trained in the act of worshipping gods and have their meals and 
other comforts satisfied all gratis. These are religious orders, 
pure and simple. Many of them arc of the highest respectability. 
The members living in monasteries or shrines live quiet, peaceful 
lives, keeping open the house to travelling sadhus or pirs, training 
their neophytes and exercising sometimes a wholesome influence 
upon the people in the neighbourhood. But there arc a few 
such institutions which arc strongholds of kidnappers and women 
seducers. Many cases of c boy -him tors ' have been traced by 
me during my research work, especially in Amritsnr, Lahore, 
Rawalpindi, Peshawar and Jullundur. Some of the orders, 
however, do not keep up regular monasteries but travel about 
begging and visiting their disciples, though even here they gene- 
rally have permanent headquarters in some village or at some 
shrine or temple where one of their order officiates. Their dis- 
ciples are called Sewakas (in the case of Hindus) and Murids 
(in the case of Muslims). In some cases they marry and have 
carnal or bindi children. Generally they have spiritual children 
in their chelas, many of whom are notoriously profligate debau- 
chees, wandering about the country, seducing women extorting 
alms by threat of curses, and relying on their saintly appearance 
for protection. j 

The Faqirs in the garb of regular orders, are generally seen 
wandering about the country living on the alms of the credulous, 
often hardly knowing the names of the orders to which the ex- 
ternal signs they wear would show them to belong. Such men 
are mere beggars, not ascetics ; their number, is unfortunately 
large in the Punjab. The Faqir class have in their hands the 
custody of petty shrines, the menial service of village temples 
and mosques, the guardianship of cemeteries and similar semi- 



religious offices. For these services they often receive small 
grants of land from the village, by cultivating which they sup- 
plement the alms and offerings they receive. 

The Bairagis arc divided into several sections, each section 
being controlled by a head who is worshipped and offered a 
yearly fee. They arc, for the most part, concentrated in monas- 
teries and arc exceedingly respectable. They are most numerous 
in the Jamuna districts (about 3,000 families), and are to be 
found in almost equal numbers in. Amritsar, Lahore and Feroze- 
pore districts. In Kama], villages are held by descendants of 
both the children and disciples of the Bairagi monks. The 
Sanyasis, almost 2,000 families, are found in the Ilissar district. 
The Gosavis appear to be confined mostly to the south-eastern 

The Sadhus are found in large numbers in the Upper Ganges 
Jamuna J)oab. From Farukhabad upwards their religious 
ceremony consists in eating together and running a common 
kitchen. The earnings arc pooled and the meals prepared by 
them in turn. They hail mostly from Delhi and Hissar districts 
and Rohtak. A strong fraternity exists among them and one 
Guru alone has thousands of chclas controlled by * Sub-Gurus ' 
appointed by the chief. In the Shivalas are to be found well- 
organised Jogi Faqirs. About 5,000 families arc scattered all 
over the Province. They arc well-knit through a head who is 
paid Us. 100/- every three months by each district under him. 

The Aghori sect is found wandering about the streets, stark 
naked, leading a jackal or a dog by a string, besmeared with 
blood and carrying the same substance in a skull, to bespatter 
him who refuses them alms. The sect is under the " Akhara " 
which has branches all over the province and is governed by a 
council presided over by a chief. 

Among the Suthra Shahi seel, some arc notorious for gambl- 
ing, thieving, drunkenness, and debauchery and lead a vagabond 
life, begging and singing songs of a mystic nature. They wear 
ropes of black wool on the head and neck, and beat two small 
black (chips) sticks together as they beg. They respect the 
territorial rights of every comrade of their sect, as assigned to 



him by their Guru, living generally in a village and sharing the 
bounty afforded by his disciples. 

About 8,000 male and 2,000 female Udasis, who believe in 
the Adi Granth of Guru Nanak, were found scattered all over the 
Province in monasteries under their chiefs with whom they shared 
their earnings. Many of them are clad in loin-cloth or Kachka. 
Generally, they keep to Gurudwaras but on occasions of big fairs 
they are seen in temples joining the ceremonies there. They 
have followers amongst Hindus who pay their homage to them 
in cash every Tuesday, 

The Nirmalas (without stain), living almost entirely in 
monasteries, have a high reputation for morality. They have 
their big community at Amritsar and are governed by a Council, 
known as the Akhara, which visits periodically the Nirmala 
societies throughout the province which are controlled by a 
head Abbot or Mahant. About 2,000 families were found in 
Amritsar and Jullunder alone. They go as far as Bombay 
and Calcutta for begging. 

The Diwana Sadhu (" Mad Saints "), coming generally 
from the Kangra district, are governed by a panchayat in carry- 
ing on their activities. They have big colonies there, and strict 
rules and regulations are maintained for the admission of mem- 
bers. A Guru controls them and assigns individual and group 
duties in various seasons. 

Muslim Beggars. Amongst the Mussalmans organised beg- 
ging is resorted to by the following orders : 

(a) The Bharais or Pirahis. About 4,000 in Lahore and 
Ferozepur districts ; about 2,500 in Gujranwala district ; con- 
fined mostly to the central and sub-mountain districts and states. 
They go about beatkig a drum and begging in the name of Sakhi 
Sarwar, and conduct parties of pilgrims to the shrines at Nigaha. 
They also receive the offerings of the local shrines. They cir- 
cumcise boys in western districts and often act as Mirasis, for 
whom they are often mistaken. On the lower Indus, they 
supersede the barber as circumcisers. It is said that the prophet 
gave his coat (pairahan) to one of their ancestors as a reward 
for circumcising a convert after a barber had refused to do so. 



(b) The Madaris control many shrines. In the Punjab 
this order has about 25,000 males, 2,000 females, mostly in 
Ambala, Ludhiana, Jullunder, Hoshiarpur, Amritsar, Sialkot 
and Ferozepur. 

(c) The Malang order (a branch of the Madaris) lives, 
mostly in Patiala, Malerkotla, Jullunder and Ferozepur. The 
members annually assemble at a certain place, offerings are 
collected and matters concerning the welfare of all are discussed. 

(d) The Benawa order of Faqirs is found mostly in the 
Jamuna districts and Rohtak. 

(e) The Jalali order has followers in the Jullunder, Amritsar 
and Lahore divisions. Candidates for admission to the order 
shave completely, burn their clothes and are branded on the 
right shoulder. 

(f) The Hussaini order has more females than males among 
their members and are confined mostly to Gurgaon. 

(g) The Qadiris are followers of Pir Dastagir whose shrine 
is at Baghdad. Found mostly in the Ambala, Amritsar, and 
Lahore divisions, they sit for hours outside houses in the city 
repeating : u Thou art the guide, Thou art the truth, there 
is none but Thee." 

(h) Colonies of Darveshes (another sect of Faqirs) are to 
be found in Batala and Pathankot and in Amritsar and Kapur- 
thala. They cultivate a little land, play musical instruments, 
beg, make ropes, go to a house where there has been a death 
and chant the praises of the deceased, and hang about mosques. 
Many recruits are allowed to enter the order on payment of a 
yearly fee to the head of a town or of a district as the case may 

(i) Like the Qadiris the Naqshbandias, the followers of 
Khwaja Pir Muhammed Naqshband, found mostly in the Amritsar 
division, worship at shrines or on invitation by illiterate folks, 
by sitting perfectly silent and motionless, with bowed head 
and eyes fixed on the ground. For these performances they 
get alms which they share amongst themselves. 

(j) The Chistti Faqirs, the followers of Bandh Nawaz, 
whose shrine is at Kalbaragah and who are confined to the 


eastern half of the province, worship by leaping up and gesticu- 
lating and repeating " Allah-ya-Allah~Hir " till they work them- 
selves into a frenzy and at last sink down exhausted. They 
divide villages among themselves and beg only in the territories 
assigned to them by their head. An annual meeting of the order 
is held in a central place by rotation where their chief is offered 
his share of the six-monthly earnings. 

Loose Organisations. Certain tribal beggars, like Sansis 
and Aheris, determined and fearless, living near river sides, 
come into the city in organised parties at night for begging. 
They resort to theft and kidnappings while giving the impres- 
sion to the citizens that they are out to collect bread. This is 
in fact, a loose type of organisation, only meant for burglaries. 
Amongst the outsiders the Kashmiri beggars, who come 
down to the Punjab in winter, are somewhat better organised 
than the Pathans or the Tibetans, the Bhats or the Rawals. 
the Bhands or the Bahurupias. A party of 100 Kashmiri beggars 
belonging to Mirpur Khas, Pahlgam and other parts of Kashmir, 
was discovered selling horses and after the sale begging in groups. 
A head is chosen as the party starts from Kashmir ; his orders 
are obeyed so long as the party remains engaged in their " trade ". 
Their womenfolk prepare meals together. When the party is 
to leave for another place, a group goes ahead to select the place 
to settle and the others follow. At the fag-end of winter, the 
party is dissolved and individuals allowed to go their own way. 

The Tibetans also come down to the Punjab in winter, in 
groups of eight or ten. They arrange to get one or two beggars 
from the Punjab and with his or their help travel all over the 
province. At Amritsar they keep their head-quarters n@at- 
Darbar Sahib (in which they have great faith). Their parties, 
after travelling up to Peshawar, assemble again at Amritsar * 
matters of common interest are discussed throughout a whole 
day and night. There is no Chowdhry but the cleverest of all 
is selected to preside over meetings and conduct its deliberations. 
After Dewali, they move down to Delhi and other places. 

5^^" r ^ip?fe r "m % ^ another" tribe of beggars having a loose 
type f rfr^nfaatidb.' they -generally kee to the villages and 



practise tumbling or rope-dancing, lead about beans, donkeys 
and monkeys. They are governed by tribal councils and often 
undertake ordeals to prove their innocence. A common form 
of ordeal is that the accused stands in a pond with a pole in his 
hand. At a given signal he ducks his head ; while another man, 
honest and true, starts running at a fair pace for a spot 70 
paces distant. If the accused can keep under water while the 
140 paces to and fro are covered, he is acquitted. If not, he has 
to submit to such penalty as the council may impose. 

The womenfolk of the Nats and Bazigars jugglers and 
acrobats belong to a tribe of vagrant habits ; they are generally 
seen begging in groups of three or four. Muslim Nats are said 
to prostitute their unmarried women and, when a Nat woman 
marries, the first female child is either given to the grand-mother 
or is redeemed by payment of thirty rupees. These tribes are 
governed by a Raja and Rani, or King and Queen, like the gypsy 
tribes of Europe. Like them, Kanjars prostitute their daughters 
and do so in the garb of beggars. They form groups and are 
worshippers of Gujb Pir. Delhi is their headquarters. 

The Hesis are a tribe of beggar-cwm-wandering-minstrels of 
the higher Himalayan villages. The men play the pipes and 
kettle-drum, while the women dance and sing, and play the 
tambourine. They are the only class in Lahul and Spiti 
that owns no land. Though they are generally beggars, they 
sometimes engage in petty trades. Their headquarters are in 
Kangra, Mandi, and Suket, and they are governed by the orders 
of their heads who change, usually after three months. 

The Garidhilas wander about bare-footed and bare-headed, 
beg, work at grass and straw, eat tortoise and vermin. They 
think that they own a kingdom beyond the Indus and are up4 er 
a vow not to wear shoes or turbans till their possessions are res- 
tored to them. The head of the tribe thus keeps them loyal to 
him and is worshipped and given offerings which he h^j^Js over 
to a council of twenty for use in time of war to regaip 
kingdom. He ^ V * >c jj*^ <:> .j8.. u _lfi.p_g__Qf__] r M*< ** and 
luxurious life. 


The Bhats, bards and genealogists are usually seen roaming 
and begging in big cities. A Bhat is a hereditary servant, each 
local clan having its own Bhat who pays them periodical visits, 
writes its genealogy up to-date and receives his fees. At great 
weddings he attends and recites the history and praises of an- 
cestors and the genealogy of the bridegroom. Those Bhats who 
come from, in and about Bikaner are generally dressed in silk. 
Different groups have different heads. Whereas men remain 
idle, looking after the things of the party, women organise singing 
parties, beg and sometimes serve as prostitutes too. 

Then there are the Jogis, a thoroughly vagabond sect. They 
wander about the country beating a drum and begging, practising 
surgery and medicine in a small way ; they write charms, tell 
fortune, and practise exorcism and divination ; sometimes they 
settle down in the villages, eking out a living on their earnings 
from- these occupations, and the offerings made at the local 
shrines of the Saiyadas and other Mussalman saints. Their 
Mussalman section is called Rawals (notorious cheats) in the 
central Punjab. They travel about the Central Provinces and 
the Decfcan, and even visit Bombay and Calcutta where they 
pilfer and rob. As they are often away on these expeditions, 
the baniya of the village supports their families on credit, to be 
repaid with interest on the return of the men. 

The Bahurupia, an actor or one who assumes many forms 
or characters, is a clever beggar. There are Bahurupia families 
in Panipat who hold a revenue-free village and call themselves 
Sukhs. In Sialkot and Gujrat they are called Mahatmas and 
are organised under spiritual heads. Some of them have 
acquired the trick of doubling back their tongue so as to make 
them appear as born dumb. 

From the west of India comes a strange sect of praying 
beggars known as Aradhis, a mixed class recruited from Brah- 
mins to Mahars, and curiously even from Muslims. Childless 
men whose hope of salvation is jeopardized, vow that if a male 
child is vouchsafed it shall be dedicated as an Aradhi. Aradhins 
or, praying girls, are famous for their charm and beauty. Many 
of the men mortify theft flesh and become eunuchs. They go 


about in bands of four or five with drums and one-stringed fiddle 
known as *tuntune.* 

Such are some of the organisations of beggars existing in 
North India to-day. Constructive social forces need to be mobi- 
lized to rehabilitate them. The organisations should be attacked 
on all fronts. It is no use tackling individual beggars. Reli- 
gious feeling, no doubt, stands in the way of dealing with such 
organised bodies ; this only means that the religious minded 
need an enlightened interpretation of religion. Where law can 
intervene, it should be used with firmness. Where reform can 
help, the organisations should be isolated and diverted to useful 
channels, .it should not be difficult to turn the colonies into 
centres of useful small-scale industries and the colonists into 
helpful producers of national wealth. To treat the groups in 
the milieu on sound psychological basis with concerted efforts, 
and to hold back unorganised charity from flowing towards 
these organised beggar-monopolists by proper pressure on mis- 
guided philanthropists are an important part of the main res- 
ponsibility of the authorities. But first we need to understand 
the forces that give coherence to these unsocial masses of our 



The varna institution and the joint family system have 
had important bearing on the problem of beggary in ancient 
India. According to Dr. M. Vasudeva Moorthy, the former 
"defined the scope and methods of mendicancy, distributed the 
social burden of poor relief and prevented haphazard and 
promiscuous begging," while the latter encouraged the pooling 
of resources and the even distribution for all. But the 
institutions as, they exist, no longer fulfil these original 
functions ; indeed, they do not even help to mitigate the 
problem. Further, the various forms in which beggar relief 
found expression, such as alms giving, sadavartas, dharma- 
salas, etc., which were financed both by individuals and the 
State, have also deteriorated. And consequently, the author 
maintains that the changed conditions call for new techniques 
for handling the beggar problem. 

IN an enquiry into our methods of beggar relief one has 
to bear in mind some important factors in order to ap- 
preciate the problem in its proper perspective. The 
problem of beggar relief is a part of the problem of poor 
relief. Hence an investigation of beggar relief in India is really 
a part of the study of the methods adopted to alleviate poverty. 
Begging is associated with indigence. It is only the helpless 
poor that beg. Begging presupposes a condition of helplessness 
in which one cannot earn his livelihood by any means whatsoever, 



and must perforce depend for existence on the goodwill of others. 
A person may be rendered helpless by becoming blind, by the 
loss of limbs or by any other disability ; and being so disabled 
to earn his livelihood, he may have to live by others' grace. 
But if he is born in affluence or has relatives to look after him, 
he need not necessarily turn out to be a beggar. A legitimate 
beggar is he who cannot earn his livelihood and also has no one 
to befriend him but society. This definition, of course, excludes 
the able-bodied professional beggars being classed as " legi- 
timate beggars." Religious mendicants, so long as they have 
no satisfactory excuse to offer for begging, are also not legitimate 
beggars but are really able-bodied ones. One may be a beggar 
by necessity or by inclination. But the problem of mendicancy 
is mixed up with the able-bodied beggars as well as the disabled 
poor and the helpless. In practice,- we have the disabled beg- 
ging side by side with the able-bodied. For, beggars do not 
much care to keep within bounds of finely defined categories ; 
and the social worker has to deal with the problem of mendi- 
cancy in its entirety taking into account legitimate beggars as 
well as those who do not properly belong to that class but tres- 
pass into it. 

There is another consideration also. Persons may be ren- 
dered temporarily helpless and be enforced to a life of begging 
for the time being. Such ones are usually poor children suddenly 
deprived of their parents or guardians, and also people made 
homeless and shiftless by calamities like earthquakes, floods 
and famines. This survey includes the consideration of all types 
of beggars. What was the strength and position of beggars in 
olden times in India ? What was the general feeling in India 
regarding beggars?* Were there institutions to relieve the 
helpless poor? And what were the ways and means adopted 
by the State and the people in general to render assistance to 
them ? What was the nature and extent of this relief? 
These are some of the questions which we shall try to answer. 

The problem of mendicancy appears to have been of little 
consequence in the very early India. According to Macdonell 
and Keith the word bhikshd in the sense of alms, as that which 



is obtained by begging, is used in the Atharvaveda. 1 But u beg- 
gar is a term not found in Vedic literature." 2 The beggar as 
applied to the religious mendicant is a later extension of the 
term belonging to the system of the Asramas. 3 This does not 
mean that persons mainly dependant on alms did not exist at 
all during the Vedic times. But religious mendicancy had not 
yet come to be established as an institution and professional 
beggary was not yet a noticeable phenomenon. The Aryans 
penetrated into India as invaders, not traders, and settled as. 
conquerors, chieftains and landlords. The original dwellers 
of the soil were driven further south and those who were subju- 
gated were converted into slaves and labourers. The early 
Aryans lived in India with the awareness of their belonging to 
the ruling classes. Psychologically they were averse to begging. 
Perhaps also, in those days of plenty and of less pressure of popu- 
lation there were not many persons who were forced to beg at 
others' doors. Moreover, this fact, revealed by Anthropology 
namely, that in all earlier societies it was incumbent upon the 
family, the clan or the tribe to support their own helpless mem- 
bers, applies to Vedic societies as well. In view of all these 
facts it is not surprising to find the problem of mendicancy 
very insignificant in the Vedic times. 

Religious Mendicants. The periods that followed, of the 
Brahmanas and of the Upanishads, were marked by the emer- 
gence of a new phenomenon in the social history of India. The 
development of the Varnasrama system of life, which was col* 
lateral with the growth of ritual and philosophy, brought into 
being religious mendicants. Religious mendicants are those 
who have passed or renounced the householder stage of life and 
devoted themselves to wandering and asceticism. These are 
supposed to be interested in no temporal arts. They abandon 
and shun all possessions and professions. Their profession is 
self-realization and they maintain themselves by begging. The 
number of this class of mendicants in early times is not known. 
With the growth of Jainism and Buddhism, and the monastic 

1 Vedic Index. 

2 Ibid. 

3 Ibid. 



orders connected with them, religious mendicancy must have 
received a considerable accession of numbers. The pessimism 
which generally characterized the mediaeval ages, together 
with the introduction of the Muslim fakirs further increased the 
numbers. Now the problem of religious mendicancy is associated 
with vagrants and able-bodied beggars to whom yellow robes 
and rosaries afford a convenient mask and make-believe. The 
religious mendicant is to-day looked upon as a person possessing 
inscrutable powers of doing mischief or of dispensing good to 
whomsoever he likes. He is a miracle-man of magic and of medi- 
cine. People give alms to him more out of dread than veneration. 
The order of religious mendicants was never in such disrepute. 
Factors Responsible for Beggary. No account, however, is 
available of legitimate beggars during any period in the past, 
of those who were helpless on account of natural disabilities, 
of orphans and of those who could find no means of livelihood 
other than begging. But we must remember the fact that 
old India, particularly mediaeval, following the break up of the 
Empire of Harsha was composed of a congeries of states. Wars 
between these states were frequent and ferocious ; and almost 
every war was attended by blood-curdling pillage. Also epide- 
mics and famines left their devastating effects upon villages, 
towns and cities. In view of the frequent operation of these 
factors one may reasonably imagine that there were often periods 
during which many were rendered homeless and helpless. Though 
one may not exaggerate the uncertainty of life in the past one 
has to recognize that there were forces then as now which from 
time to time disorganized family life, beggared well-to-do persons, 
orphaned a few, and altogether threw many on the charity of 
other citizens, or oi>the mercy of the State. We should not also 
omit to mention the melancholy fact that in old India the nature 
of penal law was such that it left a few victims mutilated in body. 
For certain crimes, the offenders had their thumbs or hands or 
legs cut off. After their discharge, these unfortunates, unable 
to do anything, probably joined the world of beggars. Thus 
the problem of poverty and mendicancy is an old and yet a live 
one, calling for solution now and again. 



Preventive and Curative Methods. Methods of beggar relief 
in the past may be considered under two heads : (1) Preventive 
and (2) Curative. Usually, in a study of this nature, some 
include punitive methods also. But to describe punitive measures 
as a form of beggar relief is a trick of dialectical caricature. 
Punishment of beggars is no relief to them ; though, perhaps, it 
may afford some immediate relief to society in that it is saved 
from the bother of beggars ! Moreover, in the past, begging 
when one was helpless was not considered as a legal offence. 
Therefore, for the present, we may well dismiss the classification 
of punitive methods as a type of beggar relief. 

Preventive methods of relief are based on the formula that 
a stitch in time saves nine. They are only present devices to 
ward off future troubles ; and their adoption involves foresight 
and a profound understanding of the laws that govern social 
phenomena. Preventive relief measures in India in the past 
took the form of institutional designs and ethical regulations. 
The Varna and the joint family systems were considered by far 
the most efficient and co-operative institutional endeavours 
to restrain shifty and adventurous living, to limit and reduce 
to a minimum the social burden of vagrancy and mendicancy. 

The Varna System. How did the Varna system serve to 
prevent begging? Did it not rather allow, indeed encourage, 
the entire Brahmin community to beg? This is a paradox 
which calls for an explanation. It is well known that the ancient 
Varna system was based on the principle of division of functions. 
It is true that the Brahmins were allowed to beg ; and we have 
earlier suggested that the Varnagrama scheme of life was largely 
responsible for the growth and prevalence of the mendicant 
orders in early and mediaeval India. But the popular belief 
that the Brahmins as a class were allowed to beg is not true. 
The Manusmrti mentions begging (bhaikshyam) as one of the 
ten means of livelihood open to all those who are in distress, 1 
All the four Varnas obtained livelihood through the performance 
of their respective functions. The Brahmins, as devoted to 
spiritual learning, were forbidden to amass wealth. They were 

1 Mann, X. 116 (See Kulluka's commentary). 


called upon to bear poverty ; and history reveals that many 
high souled individuals in the past voluntarily renounced 
their wealth and embraced a life of poverty. Among the Hindus 
the goddess of learning ( Saras vatl) and the goddess of wealth 
(Lakshml) are considered as naturally shunning each other's 
company. Scholars should take no thought of the morrow. 
" Sufficient unto the days is the evil thereof." This view ex- 
plains why Brahmins were asked to live by begging during their 
pupillary stage. Either the teacher, if well-to-do, maintained 
his students or the students begged and maintained their teacher 
and themselves. The students went to the doors of three or 
five or seven different householders according to their needs, 
and " like bees " collected alms therefrom. This method of 
obtaining food or grain was called ^Mddhukarl." The tradition 
and opinion in favour of Mddhukari was so strong that no house- 
holder ever disappointed those students who came to beg at 
his doors. Indeed, the householder stage of lift, was highly 
prized and praised as enabling one to be useful to students and 
also others in other d&ramas. In addition to students, Sannydsis 
and Vdnaprasthas also were advised to live by Mddhukari. The 
Sannayasopanishad gives elaborate rules which Sannyasis should 
observe concerning the manner, time and place of begging. Manu 
prescribes the ways in which the members of the first three 
Varnas in their pupillary stage of life should address the ladies 
of the houses where they go on asking for alms. This means 
that students of the three Varnas were permitted to beg. 

Begging as a Discipline. Though begging was thus allowed 
to the students and the Sannydsis, its scope was strictly limited 
with rules and regulations. Begging was not to be a nuisance 
to others but a discipline to oneself. Mendicancy was not an 
occupation ; it was a form of austerity. It may be said that 
Hinduism generally discourages begging. 1 Living by alms is 
only permitted during certain conditions and stages of life. On 
the ojther hand, giving of alms (dana) is considered to be one of 
the highest duties of man ; and even those students and others 

1 According to the canons of Islam also begging i* forbidden. Read Report of 
the Committee on the Prevention of Professional Beggary in the Bombay Presidency (1920)*. 



who obtain alms are advised to partake of their meagre receipts 
with their co-students and fellows. Not only giving of alms 
(dana) is much praised but non-acceptance of a gift (aparigraha) 
is also considered as a course of conduct which all the varnas 
have to observe. Indeed, it is looked upon as a mark of irre- 
proachable virtue and integrity on the part of a house-holder 
to refuse the offer of a gift. If at all one has to accept a gift 
or ask alms he has to do it of a good and true man 1 . 

Varna Obligations. According to the old Varna scheme of 
life, the duties of each Varna constituted the professions of its 
respective members. But the greater burden of providing for 
the community fell on the shoulders of the Kshatriyas and the 
Vaisyas who were richer than the other two Varnas. The Ksha- 
triya, in fact, was held to be responsible for the material well- 
being of the entire Hindu community. While there was no 
lack of charities and employment for the higher orders the gudras' 
well-being was not unregarded. Manu says that the Brahmins 
should engage the Sudras in their service and support them and 
their families according to their work and needs. 2 The Brahmins 
are advised to give to those udras who serve them, the remnants 
of meals, old clothes, grains and such other things which the 
Brahmins can easily afford. 3 " If the Brahmins were not able 
to maintain and support the gudras, it devolved on the Ksha- 
triyas and on the Vaisyas to engage and support the gGdras, 
The Brahmins on their turn, maintained themselves by teaching ; 
and the Kshatriyas and the Vaisyas engaged them as family 
priests (purohitas) and maintained them handsomely. It was 
common to make endowments of lands to learned Brahmins. 
And particularly during mediaeval India many were the scholars 
who were created practically zamindars. Peddanarya, who 
flourished during the heyday of the Vijayanagara Empire says 
that Krishnadeva Raya gave away the village of Kokat and 

1 Suddhat pratigrahah. As Kalidasa says: ."Better is begging fruit-lews at the 
hands of a good man and true than that which is fulfilled at the hands of a mean fellow." 

2 Manu. X, 124. 

3 Ibid. 125. 

4 /bid. 


several others to Aim in the districts of his choice. 1 By ancient tradi- 
tions such endowments of lands to Brahmins were the custom 
all over India and the modern rentfree holdings such as firotriyas 
and agraharas are only survivals of old endowments. Being 
thus enabled to maintain themselves and others, it is no wonder 
that the Brahmins were required to employ and find support 
for the lower orders. 

This injunction to find employment to the unemployed, 
especially of the lower orders was not merely an ethical obligation 
implied in the Varna institution, but also a legal enactment. 
Manu lays down that the King (the State) should enforce the 
VaiSyas and the udras to do the works belonging to their pro- 
fessions. 2 And in his commentary Kulluka explains " the king 
should punish those Vaisyas and Sudras (able-bodied) who do not 
work"* Manu further says, '" If the Kshatriya and the Vaisya, 
driven by the necessity for an employment (Vrittikarsitau) seek 
the help of the Brahmin, the Brahmin should support them by 
giving them employment accordingly. 4 And here, again, Kulluka 
explains : " If the well-to-do Brahmin does not support those who 
approach him the king should punish the Brahmin "* This leads 
one to the two important conclusions : (a) that in old India 
it was held to be a punishable offence on the part of the able-bodied 
unemployed to refuse the offer of an employment ; (b) and also 
that it was a punishable offence on the part of the well-to-do to refuse 
to employ and support persons who were in need of such employ- 
ment and support. 

We are thus justified in concluding that the Varna institu- 
tion defined the scope and methods of mendicancy, distributed 
the social burden of poor relief and prevented haphazard and 
promiscuous begging. But the one great defect of the Varna 
system, from the point of view of poor relief, is that while some 
provision was made for the employment of those in distress 

1 "Kokata^ramadyanekgraharamuladigina simala yandu nicche." 

2 Manu. VIII. 410. 

3 "Akurvanau vasyasndrau rajna daadyau." Sec com, to Manu. VIII. 410. 

4 /M&411. 

5 "Evarn balavan brahmanah tavupagatavabibhranrajna dandaniyah." Manti 



it did not provide for the fluidity of employment. It created 
class and caste distinctions which are repugnant to modern ideas 
and ideals of social justice, solidarity and integrity, 

The Joint Family as Relief Centre. Along with the varna 
institution the joint family system was an important factor 
in the prevention of needless beggary in old India. The joint 
family was based and organized on the dual principles of trustee- 
ship and equality. The elder member or members of the family 
held the entire property in trust and administered it in the in- 
terests and well-being of all the other members of the family. 
At the death of the father or the eldest member of the family, 
the eldest son was to administer the family property and main- 
tain all the members. The unity and integrity of the family 
was the main concern of the joint family system. Whosoever 
in the family earned was supposed to earn for all the members 
of the family. No one earned for himself alone. Consequently 
all the family resources could be pooled together and concentrated 
and evenly distributed for the benefit of all the members. In 
one family there could be no distinction between the rich and 
the poor, which unhappy distinction is a recent phenomenon. 
Now-a-days a man can wallow in wealth while his brothers may 
be beggars. We know of callous instances where sons are af- 
fluent while the parent practically begs. Was there a lame 
or a blind member in the joint family ? He had claims of benefit 
equal to any other members. Was there a widowed girl or a 
parentless child in the family? She had rights of lifelong protec- 
tion and maintenance along with the other members. So far as 
benefits accruing from the property were concerned there was 
perfect equality among all the members. The unfortunate 
ones of the family were not driven to the hazards of a precarious 
mendicant existence. The joint family system brought and 
held together all the members under its broad roof and provided 
shelter and sustenance to every one. This benefit and regard 
to family members was strictly enforced by the State in ancient 
India. Writes Kautilya : " When a capable person other than 
an apostate or mother neglects to maintain his or her child 
wife, mother, father, minor brothers, sisters, or widowed girls, 



he or she shall be punished with a fine of twelve panas." 1 The 
State thus guaranteed the obligations and benefits of the joint 
families to their unfortunate members* It was also laid down 
that " when, without making provision for the maintenance of 
his wife and sons, any person- embraces asceticism, he shall be 
punished." 2 In these instances the interference of the State was 
obviously with a view to utilize family organization and resources 
so as to minimize and keep within bounds the problem of beggars. 
One is led to conclude that in ancient India it was held that family 
irresponsibility and family disorganization were the potent causes 
of beggary and that the State was anxious to nip mendicancy in the 
bud by insisting on family integrity and responsibility. 

The merits of the joint family system as a means of limiting 
and preventing beggary are manifest. The joint family system 
inculcates the lesson that if every family took care of its own 
members, beggars would be rare. Every family is viewed as a 
relief -centre ; and since relief is provided to family members, 
the head of the family has the advantage of knowing personally 
and intimately the needs and necessities of individuals requiring 
help. But the joint family organization is an efficient medium 
of relief only when there are large resources at its command and 
when there are willing workers who replenish and rehabilitate 
the resources as they get constantly exhausted. With limited 
resources and expanding members, a joint family will soon col- 
lapse. And it is also ruinous to insist on a joint family with 
limited resources to provide relief to an expanding circle of un- 
fortunate members. 

Localization of Beggary. Thus far we have shown how the 
institutions of the Varna and the joint family functioned as agents 
for the prevention and minimization of mendicancy. It is well 
here to take into account another contributory factor which 
operated towards the localization of beggary in old India. This 
factor was mainly physical in its nature, but it had its immense 
influence on the problems of begging. The conditions of the 

1 Kautilya. Bk, II ch. 1. (Shama). It may be also mentioned here that the property 
of bereaved minors was safeguarded and improved during their minority by the elders of 
the village. See Kautilya. II. 1. 

2 Ibid. 



time, unassisted by scientific inventions imposed restrictions 
on mobility. The powers of space-dissolving steam had not 
yet been realized. Further, it is imaginable how old India, 
honeycombed with states, big and small, could have no well 
co-ordinated system of roads. Locomotion, of even the able- 
bodied ones, was limited and hazardous. It is to-day com- 
paratively easy for the helpless poor to migrate from one part 
of the country to another. Rumours of colossal cities, of gigantic 
industries, of unheard of amenities, of the fabulous flow of 
capital, attract and concentrate the poor, the helpless and the 
vagrant in urban areas like Bombay, Calcutta and Madras. 
Ticketless travelling by the railways helps to move these adven- 
turous unfortunates over immense distances. But in old India 
though poor relief and philanthropy ran amock in pilgrim places, 
beggars could not easily cover distances. It was impossible 
for a blind man or a lame one in Bangalore to migrate to Benares, 
though he knew that he could maintain himself better at the 
latter place than at the former by begging. At best, his range 
of begging all his life covered about a hundred miles round. 
Naturally, the b'eggar became personally known to the local 
citizens and the citizens became known to him. Necessarily, 
therefore, the problem of mendicancy was localized. Also, 
by legislative enactments the movements of vagrants and 
strangers were closely watched and restricted. 1 These physical 
and legislative restraints on mobility contributed to keep beg- 
gars within bounds. Unlike the present situation, beggars in 
old India were not massed, though perhaps in a few pilgrim 
places, those who could afford to move about a hundred miles 
gathered together. The local problem of mendicancy comes 
to-day to be concentrated in cities, like Bombay and Calcutta, 
due to facilities of transport ; and cities are called upon to bear 
the burden of poor relief which should be legitimately distributed 
over wide areas and centres. Such a concentration of the men- 
dicant problem was non-existent in the past in India. The 

1 Read Kautilya's Arthasastra, Bk. II, ch, 34 to 36. " Whoever is provided with 
a pass shall be at liberty to enter into, or go out of, the country. Whoever, being a native 
of the country, enters into or goes out of the country without a pass shall be fined 12 panas." 
(Artha. Bk. II ch. 34). 


old restrictions against such concentration have disappeared. 
In the mass of beggars, we miss the true ones. 

Preventive methods of poor relief went a long way in 
alleviating human misery in old India. But they alone 
could not have sufficed to adequately meet the constant 
demand for relief, though they helped to control and 
keep within limits the numbers joining the army of beggars. 
In spite of all preventive methods of relief there must have been, 
many helpless ones and numerous unemployed and hungry 
souls who needed assistance from society. What was the nature 
and form of relief given to them ? This question leads us to 
the consideration of the curative methods of poor relief in India. 

Curative Methods : Almsgiving. Curative relief in old 
India emanated either from private individuals and institutions 
or from the State. Curative relief to the helpless springs from 
motives of kindliness, charity and sympathy. Relief to the 
helpless blind and lame, to the mentally deformed and defective, 
to orphans and the honest unemployed is a duty preached to 
all individuals by all religions. In old India there was no lack 
of private charity to helpless men, women and children. This 
charity took the form of giving alms to any one that came to 
beg at one's doors. The things given usually consisted of grain, 
cooked food and old clothes, and the helpless came begging 
only for these necessities. Alms were never denied to any one 
during the morning hours and during the evening hours and 
also during meal -time. In the morning hours, householders 
usually kept apart a quantity of grain to be given to all those 
that came begging. This practice of allocating for beggars a 
part of the grain in the household every morning is observed 
even now in our ^ conytry. During afternoon and evening 
hours almost as a rule only cooked food was given to beggars ; 
and it was, and still is, the Indian practice to prepare more food 
especially for the purpose of giving away to the helpless poor, 
and also to animals and birds. This method of relief was highly 
efficient in that it kept alive on the part of the householders 
the human sentiments of pity and kindliness and fellowship* 
Since it was usually cooked food and old clothes that were given 



away the beggars used them almost immediately without having 
any idea of amassing and making business out of them. Also 
this kind of relief seemed to be continuous and n'6t temporary. 

Relief by individuals to the helpless poor was also given 
on festive occasions and feast days. When a rich man of the 
town or the village celebrated his son's or daughter's marriage, 
or when an heir was born to him, he usually fed and distributed 
clothes to the poor. This old custom prevails even now in 
many parts of the country. The idea of bestowing such gifts 
on the poor seems to originate in the feeling that when a man 
has an occasion to be specially happy he must endeavour to 
make all others about him put off their gloom and share in 
his happiness and thus earn their blessings. 

Saddvartas. In old India well-to-do persons regularly fed 
fifty, a hundred or two hundred or as many persons as came to 
be fed, either at his own house or at any temple or at any 
public place appointed for the purpose. This custom of regu- 
larly feeding persons on every day or on select days was well 
known as saddvarta. The tradition was that while a person 
had plenty to eat and drink and spare he should see that others 
about him did not go hungry. It was generally believed and 
the belief is still held that in this life a person enjoys abundance 
of comfort because of his charity and liberality towards the 
needy during his past life ; if one liberally shares-^ with others 
what he has, he will have more yet in lives to 1 come. Wealth 
comes to those who righteously spend it. Many Hindus record- 
ing to the Hindu traditions are advised to regularly pen<i one 
tenth or one twentieth part of their earnings ota efearities. Ac- 
cording to the Muslim traditions one should spenxl on philan- 
thropic purposes one fortieth of his income. Hoover, in old 
India persons regularly gave in charities according 'jbo- their own 
capacities. During special months like $rava# among the 
Hindus, and Ramzan among the Muslims alms to the poor and 
helpless were freely distributed even by these who could not 
ordinarily afford to be charitable. 

Dharmasdlds and Feeding-houses. Along with the insti 
tution of the Saddvarta there was the tradition of constructing 



dharmasdlds for the benefit of the poor. 1 Dharmasdlds were 
free homes where lodging, and in sgme cases boarding, was 
made available to anyone in need of it. They were 
endowed mostly by very rich persons, zamindars and kings. 
While some of these homes were attached to temples in old India, 
others existed independently and served as powerful agents 
and centres of poor relief. Perhaps jamaatkhdnds and langar- 
ikhdnds (feeding houses) and mussdffarkhdnds were Muslim proto- 
types of dharmasdlds. In the South during the early and media- 
eval centuries rich persons, chieftains, and kings built free 
feeding houses called uttupuras where pilgrims on their way and 
poor persons could have their mess and lodging temporarily. 
Of the detailed working and administration of charitable insti- 
tutions, of their constitution, of their legal position we have 
very scant information. Even to-day some of the old dharma- 
dlds exist, and old religious endowments and charities in some 
provinces are formally supervised by the government. But the 
exact position of old charitable institutions and endowments 
at present is not yet a decided question at law. 

Orphanages and Hospitals. In old India charities by private 
individuals .and bodies were supplemented by State charities. 
In times of general distress, like famines, the kings temporarily 
established free feeding houses as the Bahamani kings did during 
the famines of the 14th century. According to Kautilya, during 
famines the king should distribute to his people his own collec- 
tion of provisions or the collection of the rich men of the town. 
He may also take the help of his neighbouring kings. 2 We have 
already spoken of kings granting acres of land, even whole vil- 
lages to the poor and deserving Brahmins. 8 Manu says that the 
king should always give gifts and do other kinds of charities to 
a learned Brahmin, to one who is affected by disease or affliction, 
to one whOj is young (an orphan), to him who is very old and 

1 Charities among the Hindus were divided into two types, Ishta, which was of a 
spiritual character (like offerings and sacrifices), and Purta, which was secular in its nature 
comprising the construction of wells, tanks, lakes, temples, giving food, planting public 
gardens, etc. Rich men even to-day keep up the practice and tradition of endowing purta* 
for the benefit of the public and the poor. 

2 Artha. iv. 3. 

41 See also Itatitilya, Bk. II. ch. 1. 



also to him who is born in a noble family. 1 The king in his private 
capacity as an individual and a rich man dispensed gifts and 
charities to deserving persons. But being the head, and having 
great control of the institution and machinery of the State, 
the king was specially required to take care of the destitute and 
the helpless. Kautilya also says : " The king shall provide 
the orphans, the aged, the infirm, the afflicted, and the helpless 
with maintenance. He shall also provide subsistence to help- 
less women when they are carrying and also to the children they 
give birth to. 2 This statement by Kautilya naturally provokes 
the questions : how was relief and maintenance given to the 
orphans and the infirm, and poor pregnant women? Where 
were all these persons lodged ? Does Kautilya refer to the in- 
stitutions of orphanages and infirmaries and maternity homes 
with which we are to-day so familiar ? Perverse, indeed, must 
that scholar be who in the face of this evidence can have the 
dialectical penchant to press the opposite conclusion. Indeed, 
history reveals that Asoka endowed many charitable institu- 
tions for the benefit of man and animal not only in his own empire 
"but also in the territories of friendly independent kingdoms " 
(Smith's Hist, of India). Fa-hien, giving an account of the 
Gupta Empire during the 5th century, mentions that in the towns 
of Magadha charitable institutions were numerous ; and the 
capita] possessed an excellent free hospital (Smith's Hist, of 
India). There is no doubt that this tradition of endowing charit- 
able institutions for the benefit of the poor and infirm has 
continued to this day, though on a smaller scale and in spite 
of State indifference. 

Provision for Employment. The states in old India not 
only thus provided relief to the destitute and the helpless but 
also provided employment to those who were unemployed and 
could work. Here, again, Kautilya is illuminating. He re- 
fers to a construction called " working house " (karmagriham) 
being enclosed within the fort. 8 Though he does not give details 

1. Manu. VIII, 395, Srotriyam vyadhitartau cha balavrlddhavakinchanam, tnahakuli- 
mamaryam cha raja sampujayctsada. 

2. Kaut. Bk. II, ch. 1. 

3, Bk. II, ch, 4. 



pertaining to the " working house" he elsewhere suggests the 
existence of " working houses," to provide employment to the 
helpless poor, particularly women who could not go about 
in search of any legitimate means of livelihood. The words 
of Kautilya are worth quoting : " Widows, cripple women, 
girls, mendicant or ascetic women, women compelled to work 
in default of paying fines, mothers of prostitutes, old women- 
servants of the king, and prostitutes who have ceased to attend 
temples on service shall be employed to cut wool, fibre, cotton, 
panicle, hemp and flax." 1 This means that some sort of work- 
houses existed to provide light employment to really helpless 
women. The employment of these helpless women was effected 
by the State through the medium of the maid servants of the 
weaving department of the State. 2 It appears that great regard 
was shown to the modesty of these helpless women and also 
promptness was observed in the payment of their wages. 3 

Spies and Ascetics. The State employed able-bodied persons, 
who were in need of means of subsistence, in agricultural pur- 
suits and industrial arts. Crown lands were open to cultivation 
by slaves, free labourers and prisoners. In old India the State 
particularly took care of orphans, dwarfs, the hump-backed 
and otherwise deformed and helpless people, and employed 
them as spies. 4 These persons were given training in the arts 
according to their aptitudes and sent out to do the " under- 
world work" of the State. Spies were drawn even from the 
ascetic orders. The management and maintenance of the ascetic 
spies were left to the supervision of a diplomatic recluse. He 
was provided with money and disciples and ordinarily carried 
on " agriculture, cattle-rearing and trade on the lands alloted 
to him for the purpose." For all practical purposes he was 
created a land-lord. Out of the produce and profits thus ac- 
quired, this ascetic was required to "provide all ascetics with 
subsistence, clothing and lodging, and send on espionage such 

1. Bk. II, ch, 23 (Sbama). 

2. Ibid. 

3. Ibid. 

4. Vide whole of Bk. I cb. 11-12, Kautilya. 



among those under his protection as are desirous to earn a livelii 
hood (vrittikdma)." 1 This provision particularly for the ascetics, 
seems to be a special arrangement, made for the subsistence 
as well as for the benefit of the State and of the public. The 
State would benefit in that the services of the ascetics as spie,s 
would be available and the public would benefit in that the as- 
cetics would not be social parasites and pests. Sania- 
Sastry suggests that the present day bairagis may be survivals 
of the ascetic spies in old India. Maybe, with the disintegra- 
tion of the old states and the rise and spread of British domina- 
tion throughout India the institution of the ascetic spies became 
defunct. Since now the State has no use for them, and also, 
since no provision is made for ascetics no wonder the bairagis 
move along the flags of fashionable cities begging and also flourish 
on fortune-telling and guiding the speculations at the exchange 
and the turf. 2 

From the foregoing account it is evident that beggar relief 
in old India was not neglected. The methods of relief expressed 
themselves in highly institutionalized devices and ways of living, 
which prevented the problem of mendicancy from growing to 
unmanageable proportions. The mutual responsibility of the 
Varnas to help and maintain one another was insisted upon. 
Joint families were looked upon as primary social welfare centres. 
Religious tradition and legislation contributed to whip up, 
preserve and enforce family responsibility. The greatest feature 
of the problem of mendicancy in old India was, that it was loca- 
lized. Every region was called upon to solve its own beggar 
problem. Naturally, the incidence of beggar relief fell on the 
region or area to which the beggars belonged. The citizens 
knew the beggars of their locality, and the beggars knew their 
benefactors ; personal contact was thus possible between the 
two. Also, the State in old India took interest in the weil- 

1 . Kan. 1 .11. Compare with this the words of the Committee on Beggar Relief in the 
Bombay Presidency, contained in their Report of 1920. "The trend of opinion among 
the enlightened heads of Sadhus is that the governance of the Sadhu community should be 
entrusted to the hands of the respective religious heads or an assembly thereof, and they may 
do yeoman service if they can see on the one hand the spiritual sanctity of their cult preserved 
safe and on the other if they can see means to place the entire community on a spiritually 
utilitarian principle." P. 2. 

2. In Bombay city atone according to the census taken by the Corporation in 1921, 
the number of able-bodied bairagis (fakirs and sadhus) was I, $98. 



being of the poor and the helpless. One would wish that it had 
not taken care of orphans and the deformed with a view to uti- 
lize their services as spies. It would have been better if it had 
employed them in nobler and more elevating occupations. Per^ 
haps, in those days, it was thought that the orphans and the 
deformed and the otherwise helpless, being unable to earn a 
living by and for themselves in any other way, would be faith- 
fully attached to the State and thus be excellent and sincere 
members of the criminal and secret intelligence departments 
of the State. However, it must be said that the relief and em- 
ployment afforded to the helpless, though they did certainly 
alleviate the sufferings of the poor by answering to their animal 
needs did not, except in rare cases, conduce towards the un- 
folding of their personality. It is true that in the case of 
beggars their animal needs are exhibited in glaring relief. Their 
lean sides, their lack-lustre eyes, their hungry mouths clamour 
for food. Their gaunt structures claim the passing tribute of 
rags. In the sight of this appalling misery one is apt to throw 
food and old clothes at them and escape to brighter scenes with 
the secret satisfaction of beneficence being rendered unto the 
poor children of God. The philanthropist is apt to treat beg- 
gars as kindly as he treats animals. He forgets that beggars 
though they want their animal needs to be urgently satisfied, 
are not animals. Beggars are persons. Relief is that which 
not only temporarily removes hindrances in the way of living 
but creates permanent advantages and channels for good-living. 
Relief is not mere negative aid but positive uplift. Mere exis- 
tence we assure even to the lower animals. Somewhat more 
than crumbs and clothes are due to man. The new civilization 
has destroyed oldh institutions. The varna obligations have 
become anachronistic. The joint family is disorganized. Old 
charitable organizations like the dharmasalas have become 
effete and functionless. The competitive industrial economy of 
our times which has ousted the old co-operative rural economy 
from its place engages man in a ruthless struggle for existence. 
Mobility is bidding fair to outgrow the dimensions. And the 
State throws up its hands and disclaims its responsibility for 


the growth of beggars. Until our present competitive economy 
is changed, until new social obligations are instituted and mobi- 
lity is controlled to localize beggary and the State throws off 
its indifference and rehabilitates old charitable institutions along 
new lines, the hydra of mendicancy may well await the coming 
of its Hercules and lolas. 



' Social ^'ork in India," according to the late Dr. P. M. 
Titus, "still remains on the medieval level. An attempt is here 
made to trace the story of the evolution of charity to the 
organized social work of the modern day. Perhaps such a 
description will help us analyse and judge our own charities in 
India in comparison with western charities and see where we 
stand and whither we are going/' 

CHARITY is as old as history. In its extensiveness it is 
universal. We see it among the most primitive as well 
as the most civilized. Its range is unlimited. It varies 
from the practice of giving indiscriminate alms to highly 
organized institutional care and well developed scientific social 
work. The evolution of charity through different intermediate 
stages in to the present day professional social work as we find 
it in many of the western countries is worthy of study and inves- 
tigation. This is all the more important as we notice a general 
parallelism in the growth of charity in the West and in India, 
up to a certain point. One may even venture to say that as 


against the modern advance in the West, social work in India 
still remains on the medieval level. An attempt is here made 
to trace the story of the evolution of charity to the organized 
social work of the modern day. Perhaps such a description 
will help us analyze and judge our own charities in India in 
comparison with Western charities and see where we stand and 
whither we are going. 

Social work, privately organized, does for the poor man 
what a well-to-do man seeks to do for himself, with the assistance 
of a number of advisers for whose services he pays or upon whose 
friendship he relies. It is the channel through which philan- 
thropy seeks to mitigate most directly those consequences of 
social process which are unfortunate in their effect upon certain 
groups and certain individuals. Public Social Welfare is the 
resultant ultimate recognition by the State of the necessity 
and usefulness of such services for the welfare of the community 
at large. That which has been done through private initiative 
and was supported by voluntary contributions is taken over 
by the State, supported by taxes and thus made secure and 

The most characteristic elements of charity are doubtless 
derived from the feelings and experiences associated with family 
life. The term charity was first applied to the extension of 
social obligations beyond the immediate circle of kinship. But 
whether in a tribal group, religious body or political organiza- 
tion the main idea was that charity was an expression of the 
primary group feeling. " Taking care of our own " seems to 
have been the guiding motive in all charity work. Charity was 
always associated with religion. When it acquired the sanction 
of religion, it became a personal virtue, a religious duty and a 
social utility. At its best, charity has been the overt expression 
of the ethical impulse of the sensitive man to identify himself 
with the needs and sufferings of his fellowman. It represents 
the application of the golden rule in social relations ; the practice 
of " Dharma " in responsible living. Judaism, Christianity, 
Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and all other world religions have 
exhorted their respective members to give charity. But in 



actual practice, and in the development of organized charities 
throughout the ages, we find that extension was possible only 
by changing the note from pure altruism to personal gain. The 
doctrine of the religious merit of alms-giving became the corner- 
stone of all charities of the Christian churches in the West up 
to the 16th century. 

In its early stage, the philanthropy of the church was mainly 
due to a natural sense of solidarity in a numerically weak com- 
munity living in a hostile world. The eschatological hope had 
also created a heedlessness for any earthly care or possessions. 
But with the passing of the eschatological hope, with waning 
of the feeling that the Christian was only a temporary sojourner 
in this strange world, when the expectation of the speedy return 
of the Lord receded, much of the enthusiasm for open-handed 
philanthropy ceased. Moral exhortations were not enough 
to enlist support for charitable work. At the same time, the 
need for charity became greater. Individuals had to be coaxed 
to give alms by offering some personal gain for this voluntary 
act of mercy. Forgiveness of personal sins and ensuring the 
salvation of one's soul were offered in exchange for liberal con- 
tributions to church charities. " If there were no poor, the 
greater part of your sins would not be removed ; they are the 
healers of your wounds;" so said St. Chrysostum. Almsgiving 
was the patent medicine for the cure of the disease of sin. Thus, 
aiding the poor was not an end in itself, but a means by which 
the almsgiver effected his own ulterior purposes of saving his 
soul and " made God his debtor." The worst part of such a 
practice was that there was complete disregard of the effect 
of such indiscriminate almsgiving upon the individual bene- 
ficiary. Almsgiving became impersonal. While the doctrine 
stimulated a spirit of self-sacrifice and of helpfulness, it encourag- 
ed begging and idleness. The usefulness of the spreading of 
the doctrine of the religious merit of almsgiving was that it 
served the development of extensive philanthropy and led to 
the relief of much suffering in a day when everyone lived in 
his own little neighbourhood group and regarded all outsiders 
with suspicion. The good work of caring for the poor was to 



be carried on. Perhaps the most effective way to get support 
was to offer the reward of salvation which was believed to be 
within the province of the church to grant. 

The principal agencies of relief which were organized in 
those days under the auspices of the church were the monas- 
teries, the hospital orders, the hospitals which grew out of the 
earlier zenodochia, the religious fraternities, the alms of indivi- 
duals and the religious loan banks. Care of the poor, visiting 
the sick, lending money at low rates of interest, and similar 
eleemosynary activities were the main features of these 
ecclesiastical charity institutions in the Middle Ages. 

Apart from the institutional charities of the church, we find 
a system of well organised mutual aid practised in the medieval 
communities. The social structure of the middle ages may be 
described as an enormous number of small and practically in- 
dependent units. Within these local groups, be it manor, parish, 
guild, or religious community p everyone was intimately acquaint- 
ed with everyone else. There was a sort of primary group rela- 
tionship and mutual aid was as natural and spontaneous as it 
could be under such circumstances. Self-sufficient, isolated, 
fixed social units, organized for self-preservation and mutual 
support within their respective limits, served as dynamic centers 
of socialization and mutuality. But the circle was limited and 
relation with outsiders and members of other communities was 
usually one of hostility. There was little social contact with 
people beyond the local group in which they lived, worked, 
played and worshipped. There was no need for organized 
charity, because misfortunes were not faced individually but 
collectively. The burden was shared by all neighbours. Very 
similar to the manor, and sometimes identical with it, was the 
parish. Priests were to take tithes from the parishioners and a 
third of the amount received they were " in all humanity merci- 
fully to distribute with their own hands for the use of the poor 
and strangers." It was not lack of mutual aid within the parish 
that necessitated this form of organized charity. This form of 
charity was meant for those strangers in the parish who were 
detached from their own primary groups. 



The medieval guilds were a sort of closed corporations of 
monopoly within which there was a close community of interests. 
Mutual aid and neighbourliness were as simple and unaffected 
within the guilds as in any other .primary group. But relief was 
given almost exclusively to members of the respective guilds. 

Thus, the secular units of organizations cared for their 
own by practising simple neighbourliness. The ecclesiastical 
charities took care of ,the needy strangers through institutional 
care and open almsgiving. The source of support for the latter 
was voluntary donations collected by appealing to individual 
desire for personal salvation. It was ameliorative and not con- 
st ructive ; curative and not preventive. There was no thought 
of reconstruction of society to eradicate the institution of beg- 
gary. In fact, for the salvation of the souls of the rich donors 
of charity, poor recipients of alms were necessary. 

" The established folk saw in the wanderers means of divine 
grace for themselves. The unfortunate and the needy were 
regarded as an asset ! It was not necessary to put themselves 

in the places of the poor On the other hand, the beggars 

saw in the rich simply possible sources of food and clothing. 
On neither side was there recognition of human personality 
in its richeness and fullness. The mental image was a highly 
refined abstraction rather than a recognition of man as man." 

Howsoever reprehensible such an attitude might be, one 
should not overlook the fact that medieval religion as such, 
never lost sight of the social obligation of caring for the poor. 
The expression of social consciousness in those days, consistent 
with the mood of the times, was not so refined and enlightened 
as to be normative for all times. 

But society could not remain static. Social changes had to 
come. The old feudal fixed and isolated communities were to 
break down due to pressure of political, economic, social and 
religious changes. Increase of commerce, during and after the 
Crusades, gave rise to the growth of innumerable towns. Rise 
of nationalism knocked out the already weak props of feudalism. 
The abuses of the church, especially in the field of raising funds 
for church charities by selling " indulgences " brought in the 



Protestant revolution. Thus, different social and political units 
were organized in the West on the lines of new cleavage that 
came in after the middle ages. These radical social changes 
had their effect on the development and organization of charity 
in western countries in the subsequent period. 

With the rise of the townships, there came the organzation 
and growth of municipal charities. With a larger and more 
heterogeneous population, much more mobile and extensive than 
medieval group, the need for organized charities on secular lines 
became a necessity. The early municipal charities were more 
personal than the indiscriminate almsgiving that preceded and 
accompanied them ; they were less personal than the mutual 
aid of the simpler group. But the change was more important, 
in that it was both a transfer of power to a secular civic body 
and also an assumption of responsibility by a geographical com- 
munity, rather than by an exclusive religious fraternity or voca- 
tional guild. It was the extension of the principle of municipal 
charity that subsequently developed into the public charities of 
the State. After the Industrial Revolution, when life in the 
industrial centres became extremely impersonal, and when the 
population in such areas became heteorgeneous and mobile, 
such public charities became indispensable. Dissolution of early 
forms of church charities left the poor without any door to go 
to. Political and economic changes set loose a vast mass of 
uprooted humanity. Repressive measures proved to be abor- 
tive. Necessity, as well as civic consciousness, led to the initia- 
tion of public assistance in the early days. 

Another important factor to be reckoned with is the Protest- 
tant Reformation. Breaking away from the Mother Church, 
Protestantism developed new strands of thought and behaviour. 
It put the individual at the centre both in regard to personal 
moral responsibility and social duty. The revulsion against the 
old theory of personal reward for charitable work was great. 
The ground work of the theory of charity was recast. The con- 
ception of personal reward here or hereafter to the donor of 
charity was eliminated. The deed was good only in the same 
sense in which the doer was good ; it had in it no intrinsic merit. 



The appeal of charity was to the moral and social consciousness of 
the individual. Private charity of Prostestant churches in the 
West thus developed as a result of the moral and social cons- 
ciousness of their members. The basis of charity thus became 
the needs of the recipients of charity rather than the benefits 
the donor might acquire by giving charity. Charity was inter- 
preted as contributive to the welfare of the community at large. 

This new orientation revolutionized the philosophy and 
technique of charity. The Protestant Reformation together 
with the growth of urban areas with their incidental complexity 
and social problems, initiated new kinds of charity. In fact, 
charity graduated into a more sensible form of constructive social 
work. The origin and growth of the English Poor Law of the 
17th century is an illustration. It developed a new technique. 
The English Poor Law represents the development of a conscious- 
ness of national responsibility for dealing with the problem of 
poverty. Begging was repressed. In the earlier stages it or- 
ganized, regulated and defined the relief which was actually 
administered by the units of local government. Later it orga- 
nized a national system of relief. Finally it led to old age pen- 
sions, and health and unemployment insurance as parts of a 
national programme to diminish the amount of poverty and 

Another contribution of the English Poor Law system was 
the gradual development of a consciousness of the futility of 
mere relief. The case-work method in social work evolved out 
of the experiences of the administrators of poor relief. 

It must also be mentioned that the growth of the democratic 
tradition contributed a great deal towards the new outlook 
and interpretation of charity. The older method of benevolent 
patronizing of throwing crumbs to the poor was no longer 
consistent with the democratic ideology. It was to be social 
work work to salvage society from disintegration and chaos 
arising out of inequality and callousness. Provision of decent 
standard of living for all citizens was accepted as one of the 
cardinal principles and goals of the democratic way of life. 
Individual needs were not to be only temporarily ameliorated; 



the community was to be built up by taking care of all the fac- 
tors and elements that go to make up a good community. 

Alongside of the development of such a trend of thought, 
new problems in greater magnitude began to confront social 
workers. The rise of capitalism, especially after the Industrial 
Revolution, challenged all social thinkers with various problems. 
The growth of industrial and commercial centres brought to- 
gether a large concourse of working class people into congested 
areas. The insanitary factories, crowded houses, long hours, 
low wages, employment of women and young children, periods 
of industrial depression accompanied by unemployment and 
monotonous existence, presented a real challenge to those in- 
terested in their fellowmen. Along with these new problems 
came the breakdown of customs, habits and morals. There was 
general social disorganization. 

The recognized tasks that the Industrial Revolution set 
for 19th century social work included : protection of health 
through sanitation of factories, housing and medical service; 
provision of regular employment with adequate remuneration ; 
provision for disability and old age ; protection of children ; 
education ; recreation ; prevention of racial conflicts ; care of 
the new immigrants and all sorts of other new problems which 
were not present or at least were not recognized in the old order 
of society. There was to be a new basis of social organization. 
Different groups, classes and interests responded to this 
new situation with different methods of treatment and varying 
motives. The exploited victims of the new factory system 
began to organize and revolt against the injustices they had to 
suffer. As a result of social agitation both by the workers them- 
selves and also by "socially conscious philanthropists and social 
workers, social legislation was enacted for the protection of the 
disadvantaged classes. There was also the organisation of 
social work by the middle class "uplifters." 

The religious groups Protestant, Catholic and Jewish 
established many social service agencies to take care of the 
needy among their respective communicants. Protestant Chur- 
ches, especially of the Calvinistic tradition, started many insti- 



"Use Foot-paths only*' we are advised, but where are the foot- 
paths to walk upon? It is a common sight that Bombay foot- 
paths are generally occupied by beggars, hawkers etc., and it 
is useless asking the public to use them, unless they are free 
from these kinds of encroachments. 

The picture shows a beggar occupying the footpath, 
the piece of cloth spread, just "to reserve his area" 



Like the "Old man of the ea" in Sindbad's Fable, this old Sadhu 
displays for any alms that " may be given, his long matted hair, which 
trails on the ground, and which he hangs across his arm when moving about. 


tutions, like Neighbourhood Houses and Social Settlements, to 
promote activities in community-building. Many non-sec- 
tarian agencies were started by the Protestant laity. 

There was also a line of pseudo-philanthropy which extended 
charity to " keep the workers contented." During John Wesley*^ 
days, the aristocratic group in England, so jt is told, resented 
the social service programme very much in the beginning. But 
they were gratified and co-operated when they recognized tliat 
Wesley's programme had saved England from an economic 
revolution by the uprising of the disinherited masses. Evert 
to-day we see instances of such pseudo-philanthropy, seeking 
to maintain the status quo rather than eradicate social evils. 
Many a gift to charity has been part of an effort to make the 
feudalism of industry benevolent and therefore acceptable 
and at the same time to preserve its feudal status. This kind 
of benevolence has often prevented the growth of economic 

Numerous industrial concerns set up welfare departments 
of their own for the benefit of their employees. Such work 
often savoured more of gratuity and patronage than of co-opera- 
tion ; of benevolence rather than justice. Some of the labour 
leaders in America interpreted such welfare work as chloro- 
forming the workers, keeping them from organizing. But so 
long as capitalistic industrial organization is continued on a 
feudal basis, such welfare work at its best is something done 
by employers for their employees because of real 'humanitarian 
interest in the workmen for their own sake. At its worst, it 
is a scheme for more complete control of the working people 
by the owners of industry a mere camouflage for exploitation. 

There was also a widespread soft sentimentalism in those 
days which gave opportunities for many a Lady Bountiful to 
go around visiting the poor with baskets of provisions. This 
afforded opportunities for social climbers and political oppor- 
tunists. To be the chairman of some committee fot social 
service, to be advertised as a generous contributor to good causes, 
and such other ostensible interests in social service were accre- 
dited means to gain titles and wide social recognition* ' 


But after we have discounted the social climbers, the cheap 
politicians, and the Ladies Bountiful and the poseurs, and given 
recognition to the truly benevolent bourgeoisie, there is to be 
noted a band of genuine social workers for whom social work 
ivas not merely charity, but also public service. For them 
it was not a spare-time diversion nor a means to some 
private end. It was a full-time job to which steady application 
and whole-hearted devotion were spontaneous and essential. 

The appalling conditions of the poor and the lack of any 
co-ordination and co-operation between the many private societies 
that sprung up in the early days led to over-indulgence, neglect, 
fraud and all other kinds of abuses. The Charity Organisation 
Movement of the latter part of the last century was an effort 
to improve the condition of the poor and co-ordinate the existing 
societies. The Charity Organization Societies which were started 
with very modest ambitions contributed a great deal to the field 
of modern social work. The C. O. S. helped in the correlation 
of many agencies. It organized a system of relief which eliminated 
^duplication and neglect. Perhaps the greatest contribution of 
the C. O. S. has been the development of what is called today 
the " case method " of analysing and treating human problems. 
The study and treatment of each individual and family as a 
unique problem by the " case method " made social work more 
intimate, personal and effective. The emergence of social work 
as a well defined profession and the growing emphasis laid on 
professional qualifications for social workers may be traced back 
to the C. O. S. 

With the increasing number of social service agencies in the 
modern era there was greater necessity for co-ordination of these 
agencies. A group of agencies began to specialize in co-ordinating 
and unifying social work. Conferences national, regional, state 
and local served to weld together social workers and create 
common interests. Professional and functional organizations 
also furthered unity and recognized standards. Councils of 
social agencies, organized in major cities, now develop co-opera- 
tion, help in raising standards of work, do research work and 
encourage central planning. Financial federations, like Com* 


munity Chests and Community Trusts, are organized for co- 
operative budget-making and money-raising in most of the 
important western cities. Foundations with large assets have 
been established to support organized philanthropy and social 

Diversity of social problems demanded specialized forms of 
treatment. Social work began to get defined in different specializ- 
ed forms. The catch-all charitable institutions of early days gave 
way to specialized services under professional leadership. This 
led to the development of many functional groupings such as 
family service and relief agencies ; agencies for the care of the 
aged ; different types of services to children, such as foster-home 
care, institutional care for the destitute, disabled and handicapped 
juvenile court work ; employment and vocational guidance ; 
protective services ; group work, recreation and informal educa- 
tion ; different types of health services ; industrial welfare work, 
etc. If we glance through the social service directory of any of 
the major cities in the West, we discover the highly developed 
functional organization of private social work. 

Alongside of the development of specialization of services 
came specialization of techniques. This led to the professionaliza- 
tion of social work, and professional schools for training social 
workers were started. Organizing ability and expert training 
became more important than strong sentiment and " inspired " 
leadership. Social workers today are expected to have refined 
technical skill. 

Emphasis has been laid by private social agencies on pre- 
ventive and constructive measures. Social investigation and 
surveys have been made to furnish the basis of remedial and 
preventive activities as well as to educate the public on social 

The benefits of co-operation between private social agencies 
cannot be over-emphasized. In the matter of raising funds 
alone, we find that organization of community chests for the 
joint-financing of private social agencies in the major cities of 
America has been extremely helpful. Community chests were 
organized to avoid duplication of effort and equipment, and 



reduce competition and expense in money-raising. The annual 
concerted drive for the support of co-operating social agencies 
has helped in the raising of larger amounts and also avoiding 
confusion and restiveness in the minds of the subscribing public. 
The appreciation of the success of such efforts in joint financing 
is revealed in the rapid growth in the number of community 

Community Chests and Amounts Raised, 1914-31 

Year. Number of diesis in Amount raised annually 

existence. in dollars. 

1914 1 22,437 

1919 12 14,224,740 

1924 180 48,850,000 

1929 329 72,743,910 

1930 363 75,108,792 

1931 377 83,213,428 

The number of community chests has increased since 1931 
and almost all the major cities have such joint-financing agencies. 
The chest is accepted today as a permanent method of financing 
social work. All evidence indicates that it has stimulated 
systematic giving for social welfare activities. 

Community trusts which have developed in the United 
States within the last 30 years are for the support of local activities. 
In the case of trusts the fund is permanent rather than annually 
collected and expended. Contributions are made to the trusts 
either in the form of gifts or bequests. More than 75 cities had 
set up community trusts by 1931, and their aggregate funds 
amount to more than $35,000,000. In addition to this there 
are Philanthropic Foundations with heavy endowments. In 
1931 there were 350 such Foundations. The total assets of the 
20 largest Foundations in that year amounted to about 

The amount of money contributed annually through 
voluntary subscriptions for recurring expenses for the private 
social agencies in the large cities may be illustrated by taking 



a single city like Chicago. Chicago with a population of nearly 
3-| millions has some 500 private social agencies. The financial 
statements of 262 of the more important of the 500 agencies show 
that including capital gifts a total of 11 million dollars were 
contributed through voluntary subscriptions in 1938. If the 
total contributions for all the 500 agencies of Chicago were taken, 
we could safely assume that the annual per capita voluntary 
contribution for private social agencies in Chicago was $5.00 
that year. The per capita giving to organized social work in 
Chicago is exceeded by most of the major centres of population 
in the United States. 

The story of the evolution and development of private chari- 
ties in the Western countries is, in general, the story of the growth 
of community consciousness. Private charities have not been 
content in continuing their services for all time depending on 
voluntary contributions of private citizens. In the course of 
history we find that the isolated philanthropy of one generation 
became the organized charity of the next, and finally a public 
charge. Private social agencies have been instrumental in the 
promotion of much progressive social legislation. The policy 
has generally been to initiate a variety of socially necessary 
services, experiment with methods of administration and then 
seek to secure permanent financial support from tax-funds when 
the services appear to be a legitimate public undertaking. The 
absorption of social service activities as a part of public adminis- 
tration has been going on at an accelerated rate during the last 
two decades. The private agencies of to-day both supplement 
the public welfare agencies and blaze new trails. The relation- 
ship is not competitive but co-operative. It is recognized that 
in experimenting, promoting and maintaining standards, in 
using imagination and a flexible approach to social problems, 
the private organization has a great advantage. 

In the field of public welfare, the underlying concepts and 
philosophy have undergone revision, away from the old con- 
descending charity and philanthropy to the newer ideals of 
democratic service. The theory that the tax-payers of the 
community must provide the necessities of life for those unable 



to provide such necessities for themselves is accepted today as 
sound and valid in democratic countries. 

The advance made in this direction can be noticed when 
we look at the list of public assistance programmes undertaken 
by governments both in Europe and America. Towards 
guaranteeing social security, unemployment insurance, old-age 
pensions, blind persons* pensions, family endowments and allied 
measures have already been taken. Statutory regulation of 
wages and hours of work in factories has been initiated to protect 
the workers from exploitation. National health insurance schemes 
are already functioning. Public housing projects have been 
started to rehouse the slum-dwellers in decent quarters. Large 
amounts of money are spent for public relief. Institutions of 
all kinds to take care of the dependent, destitute and handicapped 
are maintained at public cost. 

Since 1933, after initiation of the New Deal Programme by 
President Roosevelt, public welfare activities have increased 
extensively in the United States. Humanitarianism, together 
with a more sincere effort to translate the ideals of democracy 
into concrete action, have inspired the modern developments 
in America. Social welfare has, at least, been fully accepted as 
one of the recognized objectives of the National Government. 
The best defence of democracy is increasingly recognized as 
democracy itself. 

In the light of this brief history of charities in Western 
countries, we can judge the status of our own charities. Much 
of our charity is still based on the doctrine of the religious merit 
of almsgiving. It is shocking to hear a Hindu Mayor of a large 
city objecting to a scheme for the elimination of beggary by 
establishing a poor htmse on the ground that such an action will 
be prejudicial to Hindu religion and Indian culture. He main- 
tains that if the poor are not in the easy reach of the public, the 
latter will not have opportunities to give alms and thereby 
obtain religious merit. He wants to keep them in our midst 
to keep us humble. As in Medieval Europe, indiscriminate 
almsgiving is continued here in India without any regard for the 
consequences so far as the recipients are concerned. Much of 



the misery and suffering of the poor are interpreted in terms of 
" karma " or " kismet ". Institutional charities are organized 
on communal lines rather than on a community basis. Com- 
paratively, our public welfare programmes are far too thin and 
halting. We often boast of our old culture and are maintaining 
that the Indian concept of society is that of an organic unity. 
We often repeat to ourselves that " Dharma" reveals the out 
of India. But Dharma in practice is far from being satisfactory. 

To be sure there is much talk 011 political platforms about 
the sad fate of the " dumb millions " of India. Different panaceas 
are suggested by different groups and different persons. Many 
programmes give evidence of little thought, and very often one 
suspects there is too much concern to be original rather than be 
practical. The rise of Nationalism has made us turn our back 
on everything alien. To be lamenting over the good old days 
of glory and contentment, to find a scapegoat for all our ills and 
then go about with slogans, " back to the villages ", " back to 
handicrafts ", " back to our own culture ", are not going to get 
us anywhere. We cannot go back even if we want to. We 
are not living in isolation. Times have changed and the world 
lias changed. Intelligent planning means the use of the accu- 
mulated wisdom of all times and all climes and then to try to 
solve our problems in the light of such wisdom and knowledge. 

What can we do ? So far as the expansion of public social 
welfare programmes are concerned, times and circumstances 
arc such that we cannot do much in the immediate present. 
Unemployment insurance, old age pensions, health insurance, 
blind pensions, and such other social security programmes are 
beyond our immediate scope. It is in the field of private charities 
that we can do something. Today private charities are all un- 
organized without any co-ordination or co-operation. We can 
respect the individuality and independence of each and every 
separate institution, and yet organize on a sound basis, if only 
we are willing to co-operate. If we are incapable of co-operating 
in our activities which are essentially the expressions of our 
humanitarian impulses, is there any hope of our co-operation 
in any other field ? It is by working together that we create 



unity and esprit de corps. Co-operation in the organization 
of private charities is one of the best and most feasible programmes 
we can launch forth because the motives and goals of the 
various organizations are the same, viz., the amelioration of 
human suffering. 

It is the major cities that can take the lead in this direction. 
Here in Bombay there are about five hundred charity agencies. 
There is no co-ordination, no co-operation, no sharing of ex- 
periences, no co-operative discussion of problems. We have not 
yet begun to think in terms of Bombay City as a whole as an 
urban community. Parsees, Hindus, Muslims, and other com- 
munities run their respective charity institutions to render aid 
to the needy in their own communities. The first thing we can 
do is to organize a Council of Social Agencies, enlisting as members 
as many charity institutions as are willing to affiliate. This 
Council can start out as a fact-finding and consultative body, 
with a professionally efficient staiL The Councils of Social 
Agencies in the major cities of the West are composed of member 
institutions which are as varied as they are here. But they have 
learned by experience the value of such co-operation, so that 
majority of the institutions belong to such councils. 

Such a Council, if and when organized, can initiate a plan 
for the financing of social agencies in Bombay. Now each 
institution is dependent on the good-will of a specific limited 
constituency of supporters. At the same time philanthropically 
inclined people are bothered too often and by too many different 
institutions with appeals for funds for this or that institution. 
A City Fund on the lines of the Community Chests in America 
can easily be organized to make the present operation of agencies 
more secure and also to avoid confusion in the minds of subscribers 
to charity agencies. A concerted drive for funds, with sufficient 
data gathered to educate the public about the social needs of the 
City, will certainly bring in larger funds and many other intangible 
results. The urgent need is to have a co-operative body of social 
workers to launch a programme of public education in regard 
to the urgent needs of social work in the city. 

There is enough cosmopolitanism and broad-mindedness 



in Bombay to take the initiative in this matter. Bombay can 
lead the way for other major cities to follow. Nowhere have we 
seen any instance of any evil arising out of co-operative activity. 
There is no reason to believe that there will be any danger if we 
try such an experiment in the field of social work. The only 
question is whether we have sufficient good-will, imagination 
and public-mindedness to begin. 




" In a country like India where population is large and 
badly housed, the standard of health low, illiteracy extensive, 
the woman suffering from various handicaps and the child 
neglected, public and organised efforts should be directed 
towards the restoration of a sane social life" writes Dr. B. H. 
Mehta. But our present methods of giving relief are outmoded 
and he, therefore, rightly pleads for a scientific basis for 

THE word charity must be occurring in every language. 
The primitive man and the barbarian knew of charity in 
some form. The wqrkingman in the slum knows the 
meaning of giving, and even the beggar is known to share his 
little with his brother in want. It is generally believed that the 
injunction ' to give ' was given by religion. However, man, 
being an irrational animal, has given because of a spontaneous, 
emotional urge ; charity yielded its emotional dividend in terms 
of satisfaction felt by the giver. This will to give was further 
emphasised by religion, and charity became a stepping stone 
to spiritual uplift and it promised to restore a balance between 
this world and the one that was believed to come next. 



The forms of charity were not conditioned by the capacity 
of the giver, and as charity became a habit, it was practised 
indiscriminately by millions at every time and in odd places. In 
oriental countries charity has become a universal aspect of daily 
life. In India charity is all-pervasive and is practised by every 
community. It is so extensively indulged in that it has almost 
become an evil. In the West, too, Christianity has not 
failed to stress the importance of giving in the ordinary life of 

It can be easily seen that charity occurs most where there 
is wide-spread poverty. Alms -giving was a common and easy 
practice in feudal times where the rich and poor classes were 
so sharply divided. The business communities too practised 
charity because they believed that they must give because they 
get. The beginning of the industrial era saw the birth of a new 
type of mass poverty, and it led to the origin of other forms of 
charity. Today, charity prevails in countries which are governed 
by the principle of laissez-faire. Charity can function indis- 
criminately in societies where the individual is free to accumulate 
wealth and property and is also free to dispose of these according 
to his judgment. A new phase began when law and the govern- 
ment stepped in first to control and then to direct charity. In 
some States charity was even enforced by law in the name of 

Today, with a war, which aims not only to decide the fate 
of nations and the forms of government that are best suited to 
promote human welfare, but indirectly also to alter the basic 
beliefs and fundamental outlooks of humanity so that relations 
between man and man may be redefined, the problem of charity 
must also take on a jiew meaning and be made to fit into the type 
of the new world that is being born. Even at the end of the last 
war, charity received a new interpretation in certain countries. 
Soviet Russia, by ending or restricting the possession of private 
property, limited the possibility of distribution of surplus wealth 
according to the wish of the owner. By providing employment 
and at least the bare needs of existence an attempt was made 
for the complete eradication of poverty. The new interpretation 



given to religion undoubtedly affected the religious impulse 
towards charity. 

The Soviet experiment is a mere indication of the trend of 
human thought and outlook in the present century. There is 
almost a universal recognition of the need for a better application 
of the principle of social justice. The eradication of poverty is 
put as a first charge on the shoulders of any civilised government. 
The State is gradually assuming the full responsibility for the 
welfare of every citizen, removing the burden of voluntary 
obligations undertaken by public organisations and private 
individuals. Even where there is accumulation of private pro- 
perty, governments are attempting to control them by imposing 
heavy death duties and graded taxation. The spread of educa- 
tion and the removal of State interference in religious matters 
are gradually rationalising religious thought and sentiment. 

Recognising the above trend in human affairs in relation to 
the practice of charity, it will be evident that the ideal condition 
in society will be the gradual elimination of the need of charity 
as the masses come into their own and are able to live in dignity 
and self-respect on the fruits of their own labour. The practice 
of charity may be prohibited by law as states recognise the need 
of scientific measures to promote human welfare. Leaving aside 
the considerations of the ideal, and not knowing the nature of 
world organisation that will emerge at the end of the present 
war, we may consider the immediate remedies and measures that 
should be undertaken in India to divert charity into proper 
channels and to take care of the most needy. 

In the first instance, it is necessary to understand charity 
as it prevails amongst the masses and the middle classes. In 
almost all the cases, the giver and the receiver are both moved 
by impulse. The giver experiences a feeling of pity and sympathy 
for the poor, the depressed. The sympathy is translated into 
action and alms are given in terms of money or articles. The 
receiver in all cases is classed as poor, though very often economic 
poverty is caused by or accompanied with different types of 
handicap. The sympathy of the giver is enlisted by the receiver 
by demonstrating the nature of the handicap and its conse- 



cjuences upon his own life. This is generally one phase, and an 
important phase of the beggar problem. 

The intensity of the problem and even the nature of it differ 
regionally, but in almost all cases the considerations are the same. 
In science, the solution of a problem should be discovered and 
suggested in terms of the root-causes. A mere analysis will 
lead us into a futile controversy. It is difficult to find out whether 
the beggar class emerges first into the social arena, or whether 
there is in existence an army of givers who have a store of 
emotions which needs to be directed to those who are in need of 
sympathy. A solution can only be reached if action is directed 
towards both the giver and the receiver. 

An average individual acts first and thinks afterwards ; 
he may be excused if he allows his feelings and sentiments to lead 
him into action which gives him immediate relief and satisfaction 
without making him realise that it may cause social demoralisa- 
tion, and injure the self-respect and personality of the recipients 
of his favour. It is well known that even persons who are capable 
of adequate reasoning and who know that chaotic philanthropy 
encourages public beggary and is socially harmful, do give charity 
in spite of this knowledge; their sentiments awe into silence their 
casual reasoning. Incessant and intensive public education is 
one of the fundamental remedies. The second remedy is a 
provision of substitute channels for the diversion of charity. 
It is, however, found that substitute channels only work when 
there is generally a fair level of intelligence amongst the class of 
donors. In the absence of this intelligence, the mere sight of 
the blind, the lame, the aged, the woman with the baby in arms, 
or the leper will open even the half-empty purse of the ordinary 
workman. Substitute channels unfortunately do not have the 
same appeal, and besides there is invariably a want of confidence 
on the part of the giver for help given by him which is not received 
directly by the afflicted, . 

However difficult this problem may be, much of the indis- 
criminate small public charity can be diverted into more useful 
channels if religion, which once promoted indiscriminate charity, 
comes to the aid of the newer methods of charity organization. 



Religion, which once rightly extolled the feeling of giving and 
explained renunciation as an important form of spirituality, 
must now analyse its own previous injunction, and explain to 
the layman the real meaning of charity in terms of modern social 
organization and evolution. It is true that blessed are those 
who feed the hungry and clothe the naked, but thrice blessed 
are those who help to eliminate hunger and see to it that all who 
are in need, have their needs fulfilled in the same manner as 
their own needs are fulfilled. Religion, which once enjoined indivi- 
dual philanthropy, must now stand up for the establishment 
of social justice and for righting those wrongs that were caused 
by a virulent disorganization in the socio-economic structure 
of human society. With the establishment of even partial social 
justice and with the enforcement of equality of opportunity 
in the mundane world, the spiritual evolution of mankind is 
bound to progress a good deal. 

The discussion of the bearing of religion on private philan- 
thropy leads us into consideration of the religious mendicancy 
itself. In a country like India where both the major religions 
have extolled the ' sanyasi ' and the ' fakir ', beggary is bound 
to be looked upon as a noble form of spirituality. It is a privilege 
which merits Heaven to feed, clothe and house the man who 
pretends to have removed the maya of this earth in order to serve 
that unknown world in which the believer has unbounded faith. 
Such beliefs have encouraged the emergence in this country and 
other oriental countries of millions of religious mendicants who 
are daily fed, clothed and supplied with extravagant goods by 
the credulous and the unwary. Sacred temples have become the 
haunts of thousands of able-bodied and well-nourished human 
beings who renounce work and prey on the noble sentiments 
of charity and spirituality of the ignorant laity. This problem 
of religious mendicancy almost baffles a solution. It is fortunate 
that genuine and far-sighted leadership in the country in the 
fields of religion, society and politics have realised this grave 
menace which indirectly aids and abets the growth of another 
type of beggar class. It is obvious that a foreign government, 
or a government not entirely free of foreign domination, cannot 



run the risk of tampering with a problem which may lead even 
to riots and disturbances, but perhaps the national government 
of the future, moved by a missionary zeal to solve some of our 
complicated problems that have baffled us and can only be dealt 
with by honest and fearless leadership, may, with firm and 
uncompromising legislative action, face this situation too. 

As long as the beggar and the religious mendicant are part 
of a human society, it will be readily seen that methods other than 
private philanthropy will have to be applied as remedies. The 
beggar may be institutionalised or segregated. He may be de- 
tained in prison or looked after in a hospital, workhouse or alms- 
house. But these methods will not fail to rehabilitate and re- 
claim a large unfortunate section of the population. Measures 
of complete isolation and sterilisation of the unfit have been 
advocated, and they become imperative in certain extreme cases. 
But these are mere preventives, they do not suggest a cure. 
As long as poverty, want and unemployment continue to be 
rampant in human society, every effort should be made, even 
on a small scale, and perhaps in restricted areas, to plan the 
reclamation of the helpless. The beggar must be housed and 
healed ; he should be provided with employment so that he can 
earn his livelihood and live in dignity and self-respect. There 
should be a network of organisations, co-ordinated together, 
working according to plan on scientific lines to deal regionally 
with small beggar communities. It is unlikely that such orga- 
nisations will not receive public sympathy and support ; and 
if they are backed by religious bodies, a good deal of uncontrolled 
charity which is going to waste, will be harnessed to the real 
benefit of the generally handicapped, leaving it to law to deal with 
that section which uses beggary as a shield and a tool for anti- 
social and criminal conduct. 

Coming to a more intelligent type of charity where those 
who have sincerely desired to utilize their wealth for the genuine 
welfare of their fellowmen, it is felt that a good deal of such philan- 
thropy can be organised to achieve human welfare on scientific 
lines. The needs of the church, the class and certain benevolent 
institutions attracted the sympathy and interest of the well-to-do 


in the past. Even today communal, sectarian and religious 
charities thrive in many cases. The orphan, the sick, the destitute 
and the student benefit from these partially organised sectional 
charities. In such cases, too, what the giver gives indiscriminately 
is distributed unsystematically. Waste, overlapping, jobbery 
and even corruption enter into many badly organised charities 
which know not how to utilize their resources for the maximum 
good of the maximum number. Donors, seeking limelight, 
support, causes which bring a halo to their names ; they are not 
interested in maintaining and upholding efficient services for the 
intensive service of the poor. It may be added, however, that 
there are important exceptions to these mushroom organisations, 
societies and associations brought into being by mediocre and 
untrained leadership under high-sounding names and lofty 

The time has come however when the philanthropist has 
to be led, guided and helped, when the public has to be educated 
to discriminate between well-deserving and dubious causes, and 
when societies and associations have to be brought to the realisa- 
tion that wise philanthropy and genuine service must yield results 
in terms of human welfare, happiness and progress. 

A public body, organised by an individual or group of in- 
dividuals, should demonstrate certain well-defined characteristics 
and qualities to deserve public sympathy and private aid. Its 
aims and objects should be clearly and precisely stated ; a number 
of such bodies adequate in relation to the society's resources, 
should receive direct and tangible support. Selfless leadership, 
capable of thoughtful and consistent action, is as imperative for 
any useful organisation or institution, as efficient management 
and careful, watchful supervision. A sufficient number of useful 
and active workers who understand and appreciate the cause- 
they serve, and who are in some manner trained for the worfcj 
are necessary to obtain satisfactory results for public philanthropy. 
The real success of these organisations, however, will only come 
if their activities and services are worked according to plan, and 
if scientific methods are employed to execute these plans in terms 
of concerted and persistent efforts. The finances of these bodies 



should reveal careful investment of funds in useful activities 
and avoidance of waste and heavy administrative costs. 

In a country like India where population is large and badly 
housed, the standard of health low, illiteracy extensive, the 
woman suffering from various handicaps and the child neglected, 
public and organised efforts should be directed towards the 
restoration of a sane social life. The investment of money in 
this direction will be the most useful and helpful charity. Human 
environment plays an important role in the direction of social 
evolution and progress. The environment helps to develop 
talents and character, and a healthy environment will greatly 
stimulate efficiency in every aspect of life. A planned physical 
environment will facilitate the birth of various types of social 
welfare activities. Both in the city and in the village housing 
planned on a co-operative basis under public initiative will pave 
the way for Municipal and State action on a larger scale. The 
investment of charity in housing projects will contribute much 
towards greater human happiness, better health and improved 
social relations and social organisation, 

In the realm of education, however meagre the educational 
facilities provided by the local government and the state, public 
charity should reserve its interest for pre-school training and 
adult education. The creation of Infant Schools, Nursery 
Schools or Montessori Schools or even partial provision for the 
care of pre-school children will improve the prospects of education 
in the later stages. The foundation of life is laid in the earliest 
years, and the provision of proper environment, sufficient and 
wholesome food, basic training and adequate play will create 
a healthy generation for the future. Both in the village and in 
the slum, pre-schools are a neglected amenity for childhood. 

Adult education is very much needed, especially for parents 
and workers, who never had the opportunity for any kind of 
education in their childhood. Adult education is a kind of 
activity which can be easily undertaken by voluntary effort 
backed by public sympathy and charity. There is an urgent 
need to create a National Adult Education Society to direct and 
plan adult education in all its aspects, and local adult education 



Centres can be left to the care of local organisations manned by 
local volunteers and backed by local charity. 

Public effort and private philanthropy should also be directed 
towards the preservation of health and the prevention of disease. 
The creation of Health Centres in our country has been almost 
completely neglected. The provision of outdoor life, playgrounds 
and sports and athletics will go a long way towards the creation 
of a healthier and a more energetic population. Whilst private 
philanthropy may provide these amenities on a club, sectional 
or sectarian basis, the Municipality and the State ought to look 
to the provision of these for larger numbers. Municipalities 
may even take advantage of private philanthropy to advance the 
cause of health of the general public. As in the case of Adult 
Education, a Playground Movement or a Physical Welfare Move- 
ment organised on a national basis, backed by private charity 
and philanthropy in local areas, is necessary in any scheme of 
national reconstruction. 

The maintenance of the poor is a serious problem, and in 
our country where the majority of the population is a victim 
of chronic poverty, a solution can only be attempted for the 
benefit of small numbers and sectional communities. Efforts have 
especially been made in communities, castes and social groups 
in which the majority enjoy a higher standard of life. Private 
philanthropy should give every possible encouragement to any 
systematic or scientific attempt to relieve poverty and its con- 
sequences. Efforts for the complete rehabilitation of the poor 
should be made by any intelligent community that is capable 
of reazlisingthe importance of preserving social health and taking 
active measures against the slow demoralisation and deterioration 
of a part of itself which is eventually bound to react on it or 
the community as a whole. The employment of trained social 
workers by private individuals and public associations to carry 
out Family Case Work amongst the victims of poverty is one 
of the most effective forms of utilising private charity and philan- 
thropy. Family Case Work is recognised in the civilized world 
as the highest form of social service. It is also the most diffi- 
cult type of social work which can be done only by trained, ex 



perienced and mature social workers, well-versed in the know- 
ledge of social sciences, especially individual and group psycho- 
logy, family problems and the treatment of every aspect of the 
poverty problem. Any institution, association or public body 
catering to the poor ought to be able to pay for the services of 
full-time qualified workers who will be able to do more for the 
relief of the poor and eradication of poverty than any of the 
half-hearted palliatives, like doles, distribution of food grains 
and clothes, relief for rent etc., which eventually render the pro- 
blem more complex for solution. If private philanthropy can 
come to the help of associations which serve the poor, it will 
enable them to render more effective aid than hitherto. 

The present war, with all its evil consequences, is augment- 
ing considerably the private wealth of a large number of indi- 
viduals, business firms and organizations. When private wealth 
is thus increased, it is but natural that a part of it will be uti- 
lised by well-meaning and intelligent philanthropists for the 
benefit of their fellow-men. The utilisation of the surplus wealth 
of individuals and the utilisation of money put at the disposal 
of handicapped and needy human groups requires to be pro- 
perly directed and invested so as to make charity yield the maxi- 
mum of human welfare. It is usual for wealthy philanthropists 
to give a part of their wealth as endowments to be managed 
by Trustees. The aims and objects of the Trust are usually 
determined by the needs of groups at a given period, and as 
Trusts have a premanent existence, considerable difficulties 
arise years later when the Articles of the Trust remain fairly 
operative whilst the direction in which the Trust money has 
to be used requires to be changed due to circumstances. 

In the making of Trusts, the help of lawyers is not enough. 
It is essential for philanthropists to consult institutions like the 
Charity Organisation Societies that exist all over Europe and 
America, but are unfortunately not known to this country. 
This Charity Organisation Movement, briefly known as the C.O.S., 
which began in the middle of the 19th century, has rendered the 
greatest help in Western coiintries in the efficient organisation 
and management of private charities. It took almost a hundred 



years for the C.O.S. to come into its own. In the last decade 
of the eighteenth century, a society for bettering the conditions 
of the poor came into existence under the leadership of men 
like William Wilberforce, Thomas Barnard, M. Eliot and others. 
After more than half a century, the Society gathered strength. 
John Ruskin and Octavia Hill joined it. And the C.O.S. Move- 
ment took root both in England and in America, and in various 
forms existed throughout the Continent. 

The task of the C.O.S. was the task of leadership in the field 
of philanthropy. It attempted to educate charity societies by 
suggestion and example. The C.O.S. suggested the nationalisa- 
tion and consolidation of charities and desired to organise charity 
by legislation and social action. It published voluminous litera- 
ture on the problem of poverty and the ways of charity. It 
raised social services to the level of a profession. Some action 
on the lines of the C.O.S. Movement has already been taken in 
India. Here and there Charity Organisation Societies have 
come into existence, mainly to serve small sections of people. 
The government too has acted to a small extent under the pres- 
sure of public opinion, and registration of charities and the super- 
vision of accounts, however partial, have been undertaken. It 
is unfortunate that no effort has yet been made to work the 
real aims and principles of the C.O.S. Movement. Hardly any 
lead has been given to the philanthropists, loose and independent 
actions of societies with narrow outlooks have not been co-ordi- 
nated, persons who manage charity have not yet been even 
brought together, let alone the larger purpose of educating them 
in the scientific methods of charity management. 

India is a vast country, and the existence of many commu- 
nities and the caste system comes in the way of any effort to 
organise charity on a national basis. To give charity for the 
benefit of one's own caste or community can be understood and 
appreciated, but a wider outlook for a broad-based philanthropy 
has to be gradually created. Moreover, sectional and com- 
munal groups, whilst continuing to serve their own interests, 
can come together for common purposes, for the promotion of 
common objects. There is an urgent need to educate public 



opinion with regard to the investment of money in charity for 
the promotion of public welfare and for suggesting better methods 
of management of charities. 

As the social consciousness continues to awaken in this 
country, there is a greater desire to see that charity serves a 
far greater purpose than providing temporary satisfaction to 
the giver and the receiver. The need is felt for a greater under- 
standing of the human problem and its solution by better under- 
standing and co-operation between the public, the philanthropist 
and the government. The task is not an easy one. The 
emotional forces that urge the large masses to sacrifice and con- 
tribute their mite towards the well-being of their fellowmen 
should be given a direction and insistent education must create 
public opinion in favour of wise and discreet giving. Leaders 
and workers inspired by the mission of aid to their fellowmen 
must come together to formulate with care and precision their 
aims and ideals, and work together with efficiency and organisa- 
tion to achieve those aims. The philanthropist, endowed with 
wealth, must be guided by the State and organised charity to 
invest his wealth in causes which are worthwhile and which will 
aid in the eradication of want and poverty, and the encourage- 
ment of self-sufficiency and self-respect. The road is a long one, 
and India is only on the threshold of attempting to organise 
and regulate fundamental individual and social forces which 
have since time immemorial contributed to the well-being and 
service of the human and the sub-human kingdoms. 


Although this Scheme deals specifically with the problem 
of beggar control in the City of Bombay, it can serve as a 
basis for similar schemes in other parts of India, for the pro- 
blem is, more or less, similar everywhere. In drawing up this 
comprehensive Scheme, Dr. Balsara's main idea has been to 
devise various types uf institutions needed and to co-ordi- 
nate their activities with other existing agencies in the 
City which can render help or useful co-operation in the 
rehabilitation of beggars. 


rE difficult problem of beggars in the City of Bombay 
has been under discussion for over 36 years. It has 
agitated the public mind, the Municipal Corporation 
and the Provincial Government from time to time. It still 
awaits a studied, serious and systematic handling^ let alone a 
solution. I shall not go here into the various theoretical as- 
pects of the problem of beggary from the standpoint of its effects 
on society, society's responsibility for it, its economic and socio- 
logical causes, its nuisance value, its influence on public health, 
the injury to social conscience and the encouragement of social 



vices through its long tolerance and such other questions asso- 
ciated with the vast problem of nearly 14 to 29 lacs 1 of beggars 
and religious mendicants in the country as a whole. Nor would 
I like to go into the controversy of determining the relative res- 
ponsibility of the four sections of Indian society, viz., the pub- 
lic, the civic administration, the Provincial and Central Govern- 
ments for solving the problem. It would suffice for my purpose 
to say that none of the above four sections can or should singly 
handle or attempt to solve the problem, that their close co- 
operation will be necessary at every stage and that the ultimate 
control and major financing of the movement and machinery 
for the tackling of the beggar problem should rest with the Pro- 
vincial and the Local Governments as has been the case in all 
the countries of the West where this problem has been syste- 
matically handled. 

The Need of Co-operation Between the General Public and 
Local and Provincial Governments in Handling the Problem of 
Beggars. Most of the civilized countries of the world have long 
prohibited begging in public and declared it an offence under the 
law, whereas England began her Poor Law Relief as early as 
the reign of Queen Elizabeth from the beginning of the seven- 
teenth century. Japan has enacted social laws to care for her 
aged and infirm in State and Municipal Homes and begging in 
Japan is as scarce as in countries like Great Britain and Ger- 
many. But beggars still stalk the streets of China, India, Moslem 
and other countries of the Near, Middle and Far East and even 
some of the smaller eastern European States, though all have 
realised the fact that the beggar problem can never be solved 
by private charity, however profuse, and that state intervention 
and legislation ar& necessary if the allied problems of begging, 
destitution and vagrancy are to be effectively tackled. In fact, 
private charity without organised, well discriminated and in- 
stitutionalised distribution of relief, has, more often than not, 
led to the intensification of the evil it has tried to relieve or 
eradicate, and that is exactly what has happened in India and 
some Moslem countries, where giving alms to all and sundry, 

1 Census Report of 1931 and 1921 respectively. 



infirm and able-bodied, deserving and otherwise, has been par- 
ticularly extolled as a virtue and an act of piety and godliness. 

In the city itself and even in the country as a whole, 
attempts at the handling of the Beggar Problem have been 
or arc being made either by actual or proposed legislation in 
the following cities and states: Madras, Colombo, Hyderabad 
(Deccan), Calcutta, Lucknow, Mysore, Bangalore, Karachi, 
Nagpur and Bombay. Public opinion is gradually gathering 
strength against the social and sanitary evils of begging, 
and right-minded people have been clamouring for a 
systematic handling of the beggar problem. Under the 
stress of soaring prices and scarcity of foodstuffs, and 
more particularly the difficulty of rationing for the homeless 
and the vagrant, the time seems propitious for such an organised 
effort. It is, therefore, suggested that the public, the civic 
administration and Government make an earnest effort to tackle 
this problem, which, though of too long a duration to frighten 
the organisers, is not so insoluble or vast as not to yield to a 
really serious effort. It is in the hope of showing to some extent 
the fair possibility of the problem being successfully tackled 
that the Scheme has been worked out in some detail, though, 
it is offered only as a tentative one and with no claim of finality 
or infallibility about it. Its outline for other cities will vary 
according to local circumstances and the existence or otherwise 
of suitable institutions. 

Juvenile Beggar and Religious Mendicant not Our Concern 
in this Scheme. I shall not deal here with the question 
of the juvenile beggar under 16, as that problem is 
being already dealt with by a separate enactment 
(Children Act of 1924) and a relevant Society (Children's 
Aid Society) in Bombay as well as in other cities, 
and appropriate cases should be referred to the proper quarters 
if brought to the notice of the police or other authorised agents 
empowered to deal with adult male and female beggars. Nor 
shall I deal with the much larger and somewhat more difficult 
question of religious mendicants, or Fakirs and Sadhus, who do 
not openly beg in streets or from the general public but in the 



precincts or close neighbourhood of temples and mosques. 

Enactment of Proper Legislation a Pre-requisite. I shall 
not deal here with the detailed legislation or enactment 
of the proposed Act for the Prevention of Begging beyond 
pointing out that the first pre-requisite of the scheme detailed 
below is adequate and proper legislation, empowering the police 
and other authorised agents to arrest and remand the beggars 
detected in the act of begging to a Home or Centre, to be kept 
there for shorter or longer periods, ranging from a few days to 
3 to 12 months or longer as found necessary according to the 
nature of individual cases. 1 This legislative enactment is neces- 
sary because the existing police powers under the City Police 
Act, Municipal Acts or the Indian Penal Code are utterly in- 
adequate to enable the police authorities to handle the beggars. 
But the legislation need not be very elaborate and can be based 
on the various enactments that are already on the Statute Book 
in Calcutta, Madras, Colombo, Hyderabad and Lucknow. A 
tentative draft can be prepared by some one and then handed 
over to a committee of 3 lawyers and 3 or 4 laymen (including 
women) to be put into proper shape, varying according to local 

The Approximate Number of Beggars in the City. Coming 
straight to the Scheme, one would like to know the 
magnitude of the problem in the City of Bombay, so that 
one may have some idea of the approximate financial liability 
involved at the end of one to five years. It is a matter of sur- 
prise that no reliable figures of the number of beggars in the 
City, systematically classified, are available. The figures avail- 
able, such as they are, are however given below : 

1911 The Census Report of 1911 gives the mendicant 
population of the City of Bombay inclusive of " beg- 
gars, vagrants, procurers, prostitutes, receivers of 
stolen goods, cattle poisoners " belonging to all reli- 
gions and inclusive of religious beggars at 11,069, 
of whom 5,728 were adult males, 3,664 adult females. 

1. For the subject of legislation, see relevant chapter in this Book. 


and 1,678 dependants. Of these 7,426 were Hindus 
and 3,195 Muslims and the remaining belonged to 
other denominations. These figures naturally give 
us little idea of our real problem of secular beggars. 
(Vide Census Report Vol. Ill, Bombay Parts I 
& II p. 88.) In the same year the Census Report 
gives the figures of beggars in Calcutta and its suburbs 
at 5,624 of whom only 1,283 or less than 25% were 
born in Calcutta. 
1921 The Census Report gives the following figures : 

















Beggars & 










( Vide Vol. IX, Part II ? Tables, p. Ixxviii.) 
1931 The Census Report gives the total beggar population 
without any attempt at detailed classification as 
5,025 out of a total city population of 11,61,383, 
which gives an incidence of 4.3 per 1,000 after 
Lahore the highest incidence among 7 of the larger 
cities of India, Calcutta figures of 3,266 in the same 
year considered not reliable. Of these 5,025, males 
form 3,821 and females 1,198, there being 11 more 
working dependants. (Vide Vol. IX, Part II, p. 199.) 
1941 After considerable discussion and effort and a 
special attempt at rounding up beggars from the 
streets in the city, but during a rather wrong and 
awkward period of 8 to 12 at night, the Census of 
1941 produced the surprising* figure of beggars in 
the precincts of the city at 1,771 on the night of 
28-2-41, 1,335 males and 436 females not a reliable 
figure apart from the defects in the method and 
hours of rounding up, interrogation, etc. 
1943 The Census of the " Homeless " which description 



or designation is not necessarily co-terminous with 
" beggars " carried out for the purposes of ration- 
ing by rounding up the persons in the streets during 
daylight, gave the following figures : 

Adults 8,179 

Children over 2 and under 12 1,825 

Children under 2 118 

Persons enumerated ... 10,122 

No Reliable Figures of Secular Beggars in the City yet 
Available. The Estimate of the Sethna Committee. Thus we find 
that we have no reliable census of secular beggars taken in recent 
years on which to base our forecast of the magnitude of the 
problem for solution and our estimate of the approximate 
establishment, equipment and expenditure we may need. 
The Committee for Prevention of Professoinai Beggary 
appointed by Government Resolution No. 3020 of 26-3-1918 
to consider and formulate proposals for the prevention of 
professional begging also bemoaned the lack of reliable figures 
and obtained some statistics from District Officers, which, 
the Committee said, " though they cannot be regarded as 
perfectly accurate, can safely be treated as making the nearest 
approach to accuracy for practical purposes." These figures 
they gave as follows (p. 15 of the Committee's Report): 


<a) Bombay City 
<6) 26 Districts in the 



Population of Beggars 












44,885 X 



The Committee estimated that the ratio of juvenile to adult 
beggars worked out at about 30% to 70%, and the juvenile 
and infirm together formed half of the adult able-bodied beg- 

t For 20 districts. 

* Approximate figure for 6 district*. 



gar population, i.e., in the ratio of 1 to 2 (20,000 and 40.000 
respectively in the Bombay province). The infirm alone they 
computed at about 8% of the total, i.e., about 5,000 in the 
whole province. 

Figures According to the Special Census of Beggars in 
1921. Mr. O. H. B. Starte, who was specially appointed to make 
a further report and draw up a scheme for the tackling of the 
beggar problem in the City of Bombay, gives figures of beggars 
in the City obtained from ' a special census taken by the Corpora- 
tion on 6-11-1921 ', the total number of religious and secular 
mendicants enumerated being 6,88s 1 of whom 4, 912 were secular 
and 1,971 Fakirs and Sadhus. Some useful particulars about 
age, sex and physical condition of the secular and religious men- 
dicants were as follows : 



Male jKeniale j Total j Male [Female 

i Grand 

] Total 

Total 1 

1. Able-bodied aged 16| 

and above 

2. Those suffering from 

disabling infirmities 
and aged 16 and 

3. Able-bodied below 

16 years of age 

4. Those suffering from 

disabling infirmities 
and below 16 years 
of age 








1 55 

1 ,538 



1 382 


1 755 


1 ,456 

1 450 





... ^ 



As we are not concerned in this Scheme with the religious 
mendicants and juveniles as already stated above, we have to 
consider the above figures of able-bodied adult beggars of 1 ,246 
males and 737 females and of the 1,382 infirm, or a total of 3,365. 2 

1 This comes very near the figure of 0,505 according lo the Census of 1921. 

2 lo the recent Rationing Census, the ' homeless ' were counted at 8,179 adults and 1325 
children under 12. The enumerators stated that about 30 to 40% of these may be beggars 
which would give a figure of beggars at approximately 3,272 adults or 4,000 inclusive of 
children i.e., 40% of the total. But according to the enumerators, those suffering from 
disabling infirmities would not be more than 3 to 5% i.e., 300 to 500 out of the total home- 
less of 10,122, whereas 7 to 8% more may be suffering from curable skin diseases. (In 
1936 in Calcutta the number of beggars was estimated at 4,000 of whom 2,000 were esti- 
mated to be able-bodied, 1,000 lepers, 400 blind and 600 suffering from other diseases.) 



A Good Number Of Able-bodied Beggars will make Themselves 
Scarce no Sooner the Prevention of Begging Act is put into 
Force. Now whatever the figure of able-bodied and infirm adult 
secular beggars may be in the city, it must be stated at the out- 
set that as soon as legislation to arrest and remand them is 
introduced, a very substantial percentage will either turn to 
work, cease begging, leave the city, repair to and live with rela- 
tives or will be rendered liable for deportation. 1 This has been 
the experience the world over and also in Indian cities whenever 
such legislation has been introduced and its provisions put into 
force. It would not be advisable, therefore, to make provision 
in our scheme straight away for very large numbers or even to 
build pucca structures for accommodating a large number of 
either able-bodied or infirm beggars. Besides, at present there 
will be the added difficulty of obtaining building materials for 
a year or two to come. The scheme must, therefore, be deliberately 
conceived on a modest scale to start with, with proposals to 
utilise existing structures or institutions as far as available and 
to put up kutcha, cheaper structures somewhat on the lines of 
village huts, though built on sanitary plans, if further living or 
lodging accommodation is required. 

Caution in Expenditure Necessary Because of the Experimental 
Nature of the Measures in the Initial Stages of the Scheme. 
The first beginnings of the handling of this difficult problem 
of rehabilitating beggars in such large numbers as in the entire 
Province must inevitably be on an experimental basis, and it 
would be less costly and wasteful in the long run if houses, struc- 
tures, institutions and settlements are not located and erected 
on a basis of finality and for the full number of persons known 
or estimated to coie under this scheme. This caution is very 
necessary in view of the subsequent complications and difficulties 
arising and waste occurring among numerous social institutions 

1 The beggar community comprises a motley crowd in any city and all do not beg out 
of necessity. A large member will not relish institutionalisation. So the following types 
will soon fade away from the city, thus leaving a much smaller number of really needy 
beggars to be called for under the legislation, viz., (a) the professional able-bodied male 
and female beggars; (b) those who are otherwise employed but supplement their income by 
begging; (c) the wives and children of those male casual workers, who allow the former to 
earn by begging because of economic stress or urban demoralisation; (d) those who organise 
begging and live on their wits and (e) the juvenile beggars who have been away from home 
and taken to begging when not gainfully employed otherwise. 



owing to hurried planning, lack of provision for change, 
expansion or adaptation and the cocksureness of the organisers 
about their initial plans, aims, objects and ideals, all put up with 
a touch of finality as if nothing therein will need the slightest 
change. No such finality is claimed for this tentative and ex- 
perimental scheme and it should be thrashed out in every detail 
by persons who have thought about or possess experience of 
like schemes or institutions. It only indicates in somewhat 
broad outlines one way in which the problem can be handled. 

Some Considerations Regarding Legislation. We have 
already stated that we are not concerned in this scheme 
with the question of legislation, which should be taken 
up by a Committee of 5 to 7 lawyers and laymen, who should 
use the existing legislation in other provinces and some tenta- 
tive draft for guidance and draft a Bill to suit the needs of the 
particular City with which they are concerned. The enactment 
should properly differentiate between the secular and religious 
beggar or mendicant and leave the latter out of its purview at 
least in the early stages of handling the beggar problem in order 
to avoid unnecessary complications and possible opposition on 
religious grounds. 1 However, it may be provided that while 
religious mendicants may be allowed in the precincts of a reli- 
gious house like a temple, mosque or church, they should under 
no circumstances be allowed to beg on any public roads, streets, 
or premises or from the public in general, if they do; they 
must be brought within the purview of the Act for the Preven- 
tion of Begging in the City. Even as regards allowing them 
to beg within the precincts of religious institutions, they should 
do so with the express permission of the owners or trustees of 
the institution, and if the latter object, the beggars or mendi- 
cants will have to cease begging or otherwise they should be dealt 
with as ordinary beggars under the proposed Act. In this con- 
nection the attention of those entrusted with the drafting of the 
Bill may be drawn to some of the recommendations regarding 

1 The religious aspect of mendicancy has been very elaborately treated with relevant 
citations from scriptural texts and opinions of religious savants and dipnitories by the 
Sethna Committee (Bombay) and the Committee appointed by the Mysore Government. 
(Vide their respective Reports), 



definitions, etc., in the Sethna Committee's Report, (Chapter 
VII, paragraph 37, p. 16), and in Mr. Starte's Report (Para- 
graphs 16-18, pp. 7-9), which deal with the important questions 
of religious and secular beggars, how far begging in the public 
should be made a punishable offence, etc. 


Magistrate to Remand Every Case to the Slielter for Keeping 
Identificatory Evidence. Let us suppose that adequate legisla- 
tion has been framed and passed and the police and other 
authorised agents 1 have begun their work of arresting beggars 
as accommodation and funds permit, and placing them before 
the magistrate for trial and remand if they come within the 
cognizance of law. As the magistrate will be hearing evidence 
adduced by the police or the arresting agent and the offender 
himself as well as witnesses, if any, he will be in a position to 
judge whether he should release the offender if it is his first 
offence and he or his relatives or friends give an assurance that 
he will not beg any more. In order, however, to facilitate 
identification on a second arrest of the same person, the police 
should keep an adequate record of the particulars, photograph 
and thumb impression of the offender and send them to the 
remand home or Shelter for filing, or if this is not possible, the 
magistrate may remand every offender convicted of the offence 
of begging to the Shelter with a writ that he is to be released 
on the above formalities being completed. 

DISCRETION for Release to be Allowed to the Shelter Super- 
visor. If the magistrate is not convinced of thebona-fides of the 
offender that he will not resort to begging again or if there is 
none to give a guarantee on the offender's behalf, he will naturally 
pass a Reception Order sending him ta the remand home or 

1 As the police are generally busy with to much other work, are transferred from sec- 
tion to section and are not always available at the places where they may be most needed 
at certain times of the day, it would be advisable to arm some employees of the Shelter or 
Management Committeecalled Agents for the purpose with police powers to go round 
the City and arrest beggars found in the act of begging and committing a breach of the Act. 
These Agents must, however, be appointed on a temporary term of 1 to 3 years in the first 
instance, for their retention may become unnecessary in course of time. 



Probably Diwali Celebrations would not be complete, 

unless you meet this sight. Visit the temples and you 

will see yourself hemmed in all sides by the beggars. 

Exploitation of the child 


Shelter to be detained there for a shorter or longer period 
according to the exigencies of each case. Now the maximum 
period of detention on first offence, (which may be three months), 
should only be mentioned by the trying magistrate and the 
release of the offender at any time during that period should be 
left to the discretion of the officer in charge (whom we may call 
the Shelter Supervisor), as it is possible that some developments 
may take place soon after the remand; besides, begging is not 
an offence against society or a crime on the same level as other 
heinous offences, and the beggar should not therefore be treated 
unduly harshly for the first offence and particularly so in the 
early stages o<* the experiment of the legislation. The Super- 
visor of the Shelter or his subordinate officers will be in a much 
.better position to find out the attitude and temperament of 
the first offender in the quiet, persnasive atmosphere of the 
Shelter and judge whether the offender should be released with 
some help or advice immediately, or on being assured that he 
or his relatives or friends are able to take care of him, and he 
need not be kept any longer at the Shelter. These preliminary 
remarks are necessary here because, if the Committee agrees, 
these provisions will have to be suitably incorporated in properly- 
framed legislation. 

Naming of tlie Remand Home and Oilier Institutions in Con- 
nection with the Scheme of Beggar Rehabilitation. Now a word 
about the conception of the Shelter or remand home and the 
spirit of rehabilitation that should pervade it. It is under- 
stood that the ultimate idea of the removal of beggars from the 
streets and prohibition of begging and vagrancy is wot 
merely to punish the beggar, who may be one, not always 
because of his own fault but because of many social, economic 
and other forces or circumstances often beyond his control. 
We would put down the prime purpose of legislation to be to reclaim 
and rehabilitate the fortunate beggar as far as it is possible to do so. 
If that be the aim* care should be taken in the naming of the 
institutions and designating the personnel that are brought 
into, being for the handling of this problem. We attach some 
importance to nomenclature in such a social scheme as the above, 


because if there is a derogatory meaning attached to the words, 
names or terminology applied or used, the stigma sticks to the 
inmates, influences their behaviour and is difficult to eradicate 
once society at large gets used to the ideas associated with the 
umme or names of the institutions. As the word ' beggar' 
like so many others, has come to have considerable odium and 
condemnation attached to it, we should avoid naming our insti- 
tutions with that or a similar word. This will help us in rehabi- 
litating the beggars ; otherwise, it will create a handicap in find- 
ing such people any regular employment even after rehabilita- 
tion. With this idea I have suggested all along a certain in- 
offensive terminology or nomenclature for various homes, in- 
stitutions and officials, which, however, may be substituted 
with more suitable names as available or considered desirable. 

Necessity of a Home or Shelter in the City. Now as beggars 
are gradually arrested and produced before the magistrates, 
they may first be in larger numbers but later on they may be 
very few. As soon as the order for remand or reception has 
been made, they will have to be taken to a home and, there- 
fore, a building for housing about 40 to 50 persons including 
men, women and children, according to the proportion or 
extent of beggar infestation in each city, will be required 
in a fairly central or easily accessible locality in the city. As 
regards Bombay, if arrangements could be arrived at with the 
King George V Memorial Infirmary and Lady Dhunbai Home for 
Destitutes at Haines Road, (Mahaluxmi), to house these remanded 
persons, it would be very helpful and economical. Otherwise, 
if an Improvement Trust or Municipal or Government chawl, 
somewhat detached from others, is made available, it may tempo- 
rarily serve the purpose. This building will have to have halls 
or dormitories for males and females and a few rooms in case 
there are whole families with children to be accommodated. 
Two or three detached rooms will be required for the infirm, 
the defective and those suffering from contagious diseases. 
Such a place may be called the Shelter (sfpSTT) to which the 
beggars may be sent on conviction. 

The Purpose of the Shelter : Sorting of the Beggars. The 



Shelter will be a place for receiving and sorting out the 
beggars. Those who would like to return to their relatives 
will be sent back to them after due inquiry and on the Super- 
visor being satisfied that the person or persons can be trusted 
or allowed to go. The Supervisor will have to be authorised 
to spend some limited amount on repatriation of such beggars. 
There will be the following types of persons to be sorted 
out : 

(a) Able-bodied, single, unattached adult males. 

(b) Able-bodied, single, unattached adult females. 

(c) Man and wife. 

(d) Man and woman. 

(e) Man, wife and children (man, woman and children 

should be put in the same category as the last). 

(f) Defective, Diseased, Disabled or Infirm. 

These six classes of persons will have to be dealt with 
differently according to the special requirements of each case. 
I would suggest that the affairs of the Shelter should not be 
made too complicated, and generally the inmates should not 
be allowed to remain in the Shelter more than a few days except 
an exceptional circumstances. It should act more or less as a 
Reception and Clearing House. 

Distribution to Communal Homes or Institutions if such 
Exist. Now, soon after the inmates are'in the Shelter, having com- 
pleted the preliminary recording of their particulars, preparing 
identification cards with photographs, etc., the Supervisor will 
have to sort out the inmates with a view to directing them to 
respective institutions for keep, work, training or treatment. 
It may here be suggested that the Shelter must keep a complete 
list of communal and other institutions that have been established 
in the city with a view to taking care of the down-and-outs 
or stranded members of different communities. Thus Shelters, 
Dharmashalas or Homes will be found in the city for the desti- 
tute of all communities like the Sir Jamshetjee Jejeebhoy Dhar- 
mashala of the District Benevolent Society at Bellasis-Ripori 
Road, like the Seth F. S. Paruk Dharmashala at Hughes-Babul- 
nath Road for the Parsis, managed by the Parsi Punchayet 



Trustees, King Edward Home at Ripon Road managed by the 
Salvation Army and the European Relief Association for Euro- 
peans and Anglo-Indians, Saraswat Deen Vatsal Sangh, Bombay 
4, for Saraswats. Wherever such homes or shelters exist for 
the members of any community, it would be desirable, after the 
preliminaries of record, etc., have been completed, to direct by 
mutual arrangement such persons to the respective types of 
institutions so that the responsibility of the Shelter may be 
lessened to that extent. To this end the Shelter Supervisor 
must keep up-to-date information about the existence or establish- 
ment of such homes, shelters or institutions in the City. Except 
for the above and those who have to be repatriated to their 
family or relatives, each remaining class or type of beggar will 
have to be treated differently, and we will discuss them below 

Industrial Home for the Training of the Able-bodied. 
Taking now the first five classes of beggars, ail the able- 
bodied adult males and females will need a separate Home or 
institution, as the majority of them may be largely unskilled 
and would need to be given some training for work or taught 
some trade if they have nowhere to go to. Releasing them 
to the wide world without friends, influence or resources, after 
a remand at the Shelter, will only force them again on the streets 
and perhaps to more cunning or clandestine forms of begging 
or to thieving as it happens in the case of a large number of con- 
victs on their release from imprisonment. Those of the able- 
bodied men and women on the first and second remand, who 
express their willingness to do any work given them but are 
not in a position to find it, may be found some work ; and if 
no work is immediately available for them, they will have to 
be given some training for some skilled or semi-skilled work or 
trade, for which they may be kept for at least 3 months in an 
institution called the Industrial Home (Sfffa 3T3T). This may 
be situated either in or on the outskrits of the city. The struc- 
ture may be quite simple and even if they are sheds of bamboo- 
matting walls and leak-proof zavli roofing with a raised plinth 
to keep off rain-water flooding the interior and built on sanitary 



principles, they will admirably serve the purpose of providing 
residential accommodation separately for men and women, and 
some covered space for simple industrial training in easy arts 
and crafts. The sheds or camps for men and women may be 
separate, but they can be in the same compound or enclosure, 
-so that both may get advantage of the general industrial lay-out. 
The easier or lighter operations and processes may be worked 
Iby the women as suited to their fingers and ability, and the 
heavier or more arduous operations may be done by men. 1 

Employment First in Skilled or Unskilled Work in the City. 
Training in industrial skill or technique takes time and it 
is easier to get it at an early stage in life. After idling one's 
life in begging, skilled work may not come easily to one's fingers 
or appeal to one's heart and so we must strive to procure as much 
unskilled work as possible for these men and women after giving 
them some training in disciplined life at the Industrial Home, 
say from 1 to 3 months or more in the case of a second remand 
according to the exigencies of each individual case. Here it 
may be stated that though the city attracts its beggars from 
the town and village, the hardened beggars may have become 
so used to city life and conditions that a large section of them, 
who have no homes to go to, wDl find themselves at sea in their 
small town or village and may prefer to stay in the city and 
find work there. Besides, it would be easier in the early part 
of the scheme to find work for beggars in cities with their much 
larger possibilities of employment in industry than to establish 

1 Since the above note was prepared, I have seen the Evacuation Camp at Chembur 
{about 10 miles from Bombay) and I believe it will conveniently suit the purpose for lodging 
able-bodied beggars with an Industrial Home for about 3OO and an Infirmary for those de- 
fective and diseased or maimed cases who do not need much medical attention. The sheds 
are well -built and will last for some years, except that the zavli roofing will have to be re- 
paired and replaced every two years and privies on the basket system will have to be provided 
us slit trenches will not do for a permanent settlement and will not be hygienic especially 
in the monsoon. This will have the initial expenditure of Rs. 30,000 to 60,000 on structures. 
The 13 sheds can easily accommodate about 500 inmates, in addition to providing room for 
weaving and other industrial purposes. 

There is a charitable dispensary nearby with a doctor in charge residing on the pre- 
mises, who will be of great help to the staff as well as inmates. There are also a School, 
Library, Post Office and Police Post only a hundred feet away on the opposite side of the 
dividing road, and electric current can be tapped on the spot from the overhead Mains. 
'The Chembur station is at a distance of about $ mile and there is a regular bus service to the 
Sion Station on the fi.I.P. Rly. There are 2 big wells in the Camp and the Tulsi and Vihar 
water pipe lines are situated at a distance of J mile from the Camp and can be tapped if 
more water is needed for the Industrial Home and Infirmary. There is ample Government 
land in the neighbourhood for future development. A compound wall, or enclosure will 
lhave to fee -erected to prevent the inmates from absconding. 



agricultural or other such colonies in undeveloped rural or forest 
areas, which require different qualities from those the demora- 
lised type of beggars may be expected to possess. Pioneer agri- 
cultural colonies or settlements in forest areas or new clearings, 
besides, require a high type of leadership and a fairly homo- 
geneous group of the first batches of settlers which will not be 
so easy to procure among our variously handicapped popula- 
tion. The idea of having Agri-horticultural or Agrico-industrial 
Colonies or Settlements should therefore come at a much later 
stage after considerable experience of the variegated beggar 
population as well as of the working of the institutions proposed 
here has been obtained. 1 We must not expect miracles of self- 
reliance and uplift from the beggars, as it may also be well not 
to start with the err^r of under-estimating the capacity of the 
once fallen and handicapped to adjust themselves to new con- 
ditions, or altogether discount the latent recuperative powers 
of human beings to pull themselves together and effect self- im- 
provement under congenial atmosphere, kindly support, guidance 
and encouragement. 

Training in Textile Industry. Coming then to a survey 
of possible work for the able-bodied beggars in the city, 
the Textile Industry is the largest in Bombay and elastic 
enough to absorb from 1 to *2 lacs of male and female 
workers. Whereas it has many departments requiring 
skilled and therefore trained workers, it can also take 
several semi-skilled and unskilled workers, both men and wo- 
men. It would therefore be advantageous to have at the In- 
dustrial Home a Textile Department with simple spinning on a 
good charkha and weaving on hand and treadle looms, and for 
purposes of demonstration or actual work a power loom with 
dobbie arrangements may also be introduced. This will help 
in the production of much-needed cloth for the clothing of the 
inmates of the various institutions and the inferior staff em- 
ployed thereat, killing two birds with one stone. Further, the 
intending worker, man or woman, will be trained up, inter alia* 
in an atmosphere of spinning, weaving and ancillary operations 

1 Vide Appendix II for the possibilities of dairying and agri-horticulture at Chembur. 



and will not find himself or herself lost in the vastness of a Tex- 
tile Mill when transplanted there suddenly after a long life of 
practically doing nothing beyond using his tongue or wits. Be- 
sides such practical training, the workers should also be given 
simple lessons- in discipline, good behaviour -, honest dealings, enthu- 
siasm for work and personal cleanliness and sanitation, so that, 
when sent out, they may be accepted willingly by the employers 
rather than refused work in their concerns because they had a 
somewhat degenerate past and come from an atmosphere of 
social stigma. 

This aspect of creating a good impression about the workers 
sent out from the Home needs to be emphasised, for, once the 
Home gets a bad name with regard to the inmates' honesty or 
willingness to work, it will find it difficult to place them for 
employment. They must also be fed well at the Home and their 
health should be improved, so that they may be able to do the 
hard work expected of them. 

Employment in Textile Mills. There are about 65 to 
70 Textile Mills in the city and suburbs and the Mill- 
Owners' Association and individual proprietors may be 
requested to admit from 10 to 20 workers each daily 
(on the basis of about 1% of ,. their total employing capacity) 
on unskilled or semi-skilled work in their mills, giving them 
whatever wages they give to others, so that there may be no 
distinction made between the inmates of the Home and other 
workers. This will solve by far the most difficult problem of 
placing our able-bodied men and women in useful and profitable 
employment. The male and female members of the so-called 
Criminal Tribes Settlement near Sholapur are given employ- 
ment in the textile mills in the city and the mills seem to have 
had no particular difficulty with them. The mills in Bombay, 
if properly approached, may be able to give employment to a 
very large number of our able-bodied inmate population of the 
Industrial Home. 

Accommodation for the Employed Men in the City, if Neces- 
sary. After such employment, the men and women may be 
allowed to remain in the Home for some time if they choose to 



be tliere on payment for their food, and if they desire to leave 
and find their own lodgings they may be allowed to do so. If, 
however, on account of the acute shortage of housing in the 
city, they are not able to find residential accommodation, the 
officials of the Home should try to find it for them through the 
Municipality or Government or some other Agency. If by ex- 
perience, it is considered desirable to maintain an After-Care 
Home or Lodgings for such working inmates of the Home, the 
same may be done with a view to make such a Home or Lodgings 
self-supporting as far as possible. 1 

Other Avenues of Employment -Building Trade. It would 
not, however, do to lay all one's eggs in one basket, and 
we must keep in view other avenues of skilled and semi- 
skilled and unskilled employment for the able-bodied men and 
women from among the beggar population. In normal times 
the Building Trade would offer some scope for unskilled workers 
of both sexes and the Committee of Management may get into 
touch with larger Building Contractors in the city, the Munici- 
pality and the Public Works Department of the Provincial 
Government with a view to secure a few score or hundred places 
for our inmates on the works carried out in or outside the city. 
If the works are outside the city, the inmates can be sent there 
in batches of 15 to 20 or more with some organisation of their 
own for purposes of discipline under a Mukadum or Headman, 
so that their living, feeding and other arrangements may be 
made with the mutual co-operation of all, as is inevitably done 
among the Tamil and Tclugu people coming to the city for 
work. 2 

1 If (he Industrial Home of the able-bodied is housed in the.Cliemhur Evacuation Camp 
us proposed, this difficulty of lodging the mill workers in the city may not arise at leant 
for some time to come. For, about a mile from the Camp are situated two Textile mills in 
Kurla, viz,, the Svudeshi Mill* Co., Ltd., and C'oorla Spinning & Weaving Co., Ltd., belonging 
to Messrs. Tata Sons Ltd., & Messrs. Cowasji Jehangir & Co., Ltd., and if these were approach- 
ed and requested, they may take up a large portion of the semi-trained inmates of the In- 
dustrial Home for employment in their mills. In fact, when the Sethna Committee appoint- 
ed for this very purpose considered this matter in 1018-10, the members approached the 
Directors of Messrs. Tata Sons Ltd., with such a request and the latter were good enough 
to agree to employing as many able-bodied persons out of the beggar population as were sent 
to their mills as is done by the mills at Sholaptir with regard to the inmates of the so-called 
Criminal Tribes Settlement. (Vide Report Appendix No. 6, p. 45, Section 10). 

2 Whether our beggar inmates will be very punctilious about the observance of caste 
and whether they have organised themselves in the city in such caste-group* will be a matter 
to be looked into. To start with, this idea may be discouraged, though it must be done with 
a certain amount of tact and skilful handling of the problem, and if absolutely necessary 
in certain respects, some allowance may be made, e.g., in matters of meat and vegetarian 



Casual Labour in the Engineering Works and Conservancy 
Department of the Municipality. The Municipality can absorb 
some more casual labour on its various engineering works such 
as road repairs and construction* stone crushers, etc., and in 
the Conservancy Department say to the extent of about 50 to 
] 00 daily in place of the absentees. Some special arrangements 
will have to be made to inform the Home as to where the 
men and women may be sent daily for employment acid, if 
the Home is situated far away from the city, some arrange- 
ments may have to be made for transport or for lodging of 
this batch in an accessible locality. 

Domestic Servants, Malis, etc. As there is a dearth of 
domestic servants in the city and there is a ready field for 
employment of men and women in such callings and the training 
required is not elaborate or of a technical nature, it would be 
advantageous to employ some good male and female retired 
or middle-aged workers to train up a batch of male and female 
inmates as general domestic helpmates, bearers, ayahs, wardboys, 
sweepers, and some capable persons may even be trained up 
as cooks. All this kind of training can be taken at the Indus- 
trial Home by actually helping in its varied work, and within 3 
to 6 months or a year such persons can be sent out as full- 
fledged, properly disciplined workers trained not only in their 
work but also in good and clean habits. The Home may thus 
come to supply a greatly felt need of clean, decent, well- 
behaved domestic servants who are so difficult to procure 
under Indian conditions. As most of these workers will go 
to decent homes and will get food, clothing, shelter and wages 
in addition, their lot would be very much improved and in 
any ease would be far better than their begging condition 
in streets, homeless and helpless as many would be in old age. 
This type of training, if properly and systematically developed, 
will be a great success if the trainees are carefully chosen from 
amongst the most reliable and willing inmates of the Home. 

diet, disposal of the dead* marriage by language-groups, etc. The Moslems, Hindus and 
Scheduled or Backward classes and such others may have to be provided for specially in some 
such matters and with regard to worship if the inmates are devout or religious-minded, 
though, as stated above, too many distinctions of this sort should not be encouraged as far 
as possible. 



Similarly, a few men and women can be trained to do maid's 
work, which, besides creating beautiful surroundings for the 
Shelter, Industrial Home and Infirmary, will also give them 
employment, as malis are in fair demand in the city. 

Able-bodied Inmates to be made to do Productive Work and 
lounger People to be Apprenticed. As it will be difficult and 
costly for the Industrial Home to undertake any very ela- 
borate industrial training of the inmates at a fairly advanced 
age in various branches of technical or industrial operations ,, 
it would be desirable to look out for other avenues of 
employment where unskilled or semi-skilled workers are 
required, and build up contacts with works and factories, 
where men and women could be supplied as manual workers 
or unskilled labourers on normal wages, after the inmates have 
been given a relatively intensive training in habit formation, 
application, cleanliness, methodical work, etc., for a period 
ranging from 2 to 4 months. Otherwise, the cost of maintenance 
would mount up and it should be the object of the Home to 
see that able-bodied men and women are put to productive 
work from the commencement of their stay in the Industrial 
Home, though it should also be seen that the erstwhile idlers 
are broken into habits of industry and application step by step, 
so that there may not be created in them a violent reaction 
or disgust for work or manual labour. Younger men and women 
may also be apprenticed in productive work in concerns willing 
to take them up on a low remuneration to start with. 

Accommodation in the Industrial Home. The Indus- 
trial Home can be located in or preferably on the out- 
skirts of the city, but it should be for obvious reasons within 
easy and convenient access thereof so that the inmates may 
easily go to their respective work in various industrial concerns 
there. Otherwise, either a building will have to be hired in the 
city for lodging the men and women working in mills, factories 
and other concerns or easy transport facilities provided, which 
can be done by keeping a few buses. As there is an Evacuation 
Camp at Chembur, the Home may be located there, as such a 
step will save large initial costs and help in launching the Scheme 



almost immediately. To start with, accommodation may be 
provided for about 200 men and 100 women and more structures 
may be put up gradually as the number of inmates increases. 
There will have to be separate dormitories for men and women. 
dining rooms, and some accommodation for families wherever 
it is considered desirable to keep them together even for a 
short time, before suitable arrangements are made either for the 
entire family or separately for children. Kitchen, storeroom, 
sanitary conveniences, baths, etc., and living quarters for the 
personnel of the Home will have to be provided. There will 
have to be two Sick Rooms for male and female inmates. If 
suitable premises as stated above are available, they may be 
utilised ; if not, I would first suggest the hiring or requisitioning 
of some suitable property, and building later in the light of 
experience gained. If, however, it is proposed to build im- 
mediately I would suggest going in for reed or bamboo mat- 
ting and mud-daubing for walls and asbestos sheets or zavli 
(palm-leaf) for roofing, with raised plinths for flooring and Shah- 
bad stones for pavements or ev r en cowdung-srneared flooring. 
Care should be taken, however, to keep the premises clean and 
sanitary. Millions of Indians live in such houses or huts and 
Indian climate is such that, except for the monsoon, there is 
no great hardship under such conditions. The structures should, 
however, be airy, well-lighted and well-ventilated, and there 
should be some thought given to careful planning, especially 
of the dormitories, dining rooms and verandahs, so that utmost 
use can be made of these enclosed spaces for more purposes than 
one. Very often such large spaces are wasted or insufficiently 

Worksheds should be in the same compound and these 
too can be first of a temporary nature constructed of materials 
as above, so that they may not turn out to be inconvenient 
for lack of forethought in planning. 

The Industrial Home will Absorb all Classes of Able-bodied 
Persons. The Industrial Home will be in a position to take up all 
able-bodied persons, men and women, belonging to all the classes 
from (a) to (e) for being trained for a job and assigned one when 



the person is considered fit to take it. The training should not 
take very long as it will not be suitable for grown up adults 
and particularly of the types of mentally disintegrated adults 
uprooted from their social moorings who will mostly constitute 
the class of beggars arrested from streets. 

Whether Man and Wife or Man and Woman should be 
Lodged together and Allowed to Procreate. There will be 
slight variations, however, with regard to the condi- 
tions of residence for the classes formed of ' a man and 
wife,' 'man and woman' and families including young children. 
Two things will have to be decided, viz., (1) whether man and 
wife and man and woman should be allowed to live together 
and if they are allowed to live together (2) whether they should 
be allowed to procreate freely or taught contraception so that 
some check on the unwanted progeny in their initial helpless 
condition may be exercised. 

It would be diflicult to lay down hard and fast rules in 
such cases and it should be left to the officials in charge to make 
observations of the actual conditions of such people and put 
up their proposals or recommendations from time to time for 
consideration by the Managing Committee. But a few general 
observations may be made in this respect. At first men and 
women, to whatever category they may belong, may be separated 
in two houses according to sex, unless one or the other is so 
crippled, defective or helpless that he or she needs the help 
of the other, in which case they may be allowed to stay in what 
may be called Family Quarters. These may be in a separate 
chawl, shed or enclosure. Similarly, each family with children 
may be considered on its own merits. If there are very young 
children, say under 4 or 5, they will have to be allowed to remain 
with their mothers even if the latter are separated from their 
husbands. Except in the above two types of cases, in the 
initial stages of the Industrial Home, both the sexes may be 
separated and the man and wife or man and woman, and parents 
and children may be allowed to meet during certain hours of 
the day. If the parents have a bad influence on their children, 
they will have to be separated from them more completed. If, 



after observations extending over a month or more, the Guar- 
dian Superintendent considers it helpful or beneficial to allow 
families to live together, he may do so in selected cases. 

Necessity of Contraception to Couples of Child-bearing Age. 
But it will have to be impressed on the minds of the couples 
that they should exercise restraint and not have children as 
they will be born in very unhappy and helpless conditions and 
that they should, therefore, take contraceptive measures to check 
births. The teaching of simple methods of birth-control or con- 
traception should be a. regular feature of the training of these 
classes of couples of child-bearing age, as both in the case of 
their remaining segregated in the Home or leaving it to seek 
employment outside, this knowledge will be of help to them if 
properly given. We will not discuss here the question of steriliza- 
tion of the physically or mentally unfit, but it will force itself 
on the attention of the authorities handling the beggar problem 
sooner than they may imagine, if they are serious about a 
systematic and scientific handling of the problem of poverty, 
destitution and beggary whereof the defective and diseased 
form a fairly large proportion. 

The Defective, Disabled or Diseased. Now remain the class 
of defectives, diseased or disabled to be considered. These 
will be both owned and disowned or helpless. Those owned 
may be given away if their parents or guardians are 
willing to look after them and give an assurance not to 
trade on them or abandon them to beg in the streets. Those 
disowned and helpless will have to be taken care of by the Re- 
habilition Committee. These will naturally be sorted out 
at the Shelter, whence they can be directed to suitable places 
according to the requirements of each case. It is difficult at 
this stage to surmise the proportion of the utterly helpless or 
disabled population of men, women and children among the 
beggars of the city. The enumerators at the recent census of 
the homeless for purposes of rationing, guessed the figure of 
the disabled and defective to be about 3 to 5% in a population 
of about lOjOOO, 1 i.e., about 300 to 500, whereas they put the 

1 Vide Footnote 2, page 125 



percentage of those suffering from various types of minor or 
major skin diseases at 7 to 8%, i.e., 700 to 800. 

Their Numbers. According to the Special Census of the 
Corporation in November 1921 (referred to on pagel25), there 
were 1,846 persons of both sexes " suffering from disabling 
infirmities " out of a total population of 6,888 beggars, secular 
as well as religious, as follows : 

Beggars over 16 


under 16 








1,755 Disabled (Adults) 



Their Classification and how to Occupy the Minds of some 
of the Defective and Infirm but Partially Capable of Light Work. 
The infirmities of these 1,846 disabled persons were classified 
as followst: 

Number of Beggars including 

Nature of Infirmity 

Secular and Religious 

Above 16 

Under 16 j Total 

1. Infirm through old age 



598 82.5% 

2. Blind in both eyes 



586 32% 

3. Deformed 




4. Loss of limb 



147* 8% 

5. Paralysed 



88* 5% 

<i. Of Unsound mind 



69 3.8% 

7. Leprosy 




8. Loathsome sores (Vcncral) 




9. Deaf and Dumb 




10. Other infirmities 








t Cp. Started Report pp. 21-22. 

* These descriptions do not give us much idea about the actual nature 
of defects, deformities or disabilities. 

According to the above tables, we find that, leaving aside the 
religious beggars, there were about (1,882+91 = 1,473) persons 
of both sexes, who were suffering from some deformity or dis- 



ability. Whether these infirmities were of such nature as to 
incapacitate the persons for any productive work whatever is 
not stated and we may take it that the blind, deaf and dumb, 
some of the infirm through old age, and those who are classi- 
fied as deformed or having lost a limb can be made to do some 
Avork either with their hands or legs. It would be a desirable 
thing to find out various types of lighter work or ancillary oper- 
ations and processes which these defective or slightly infirm 
persons can be appropriately called upon to perform. For, 
it would be a good policy not to keep these people completely 
idle ; if they are able to do some lighter work according to their 
capacity and occupy their rninds for a few hours a day it will 
4 lo them good. Besides healthily occupying their minds, they 
will have the satisfaction of having contributed a little towards 
their own keep. This may also be a lesson to the other able- 
bodied confreres of theirs. Moreover, the number of such people 
capable of partial work will be so large that it will be advanta- 
geous actually to think out and devise some lighter kind of work 
for these various types of defective or partially infirm people. 

The Distribution of the Aged, Infirm and Deformed 
Among Suitable Institutions. The consideration of the above 
will also help us to decide upon the place or places 
where these defective, diseased or disabled persons may 
be kept. Now we cannot rely upon the above figures for 
calculating the present probable total number of disabled 
and defective or the number according to each classi- 
fication. For, since 1921, the numbers may have been reduced 
because of suitable institutions like hospitals, infirmaries or 
'dharmashalas taking care of some of these persons from the 
streets. All the same, we may have to deal with about 500 to 
1 ,000 of such persons, the largest of this group even now being 
the infirm through old age. 

The Blind, Leprous and Insane to be sent to Respective 
Existing Institutions. As regards the blind, the leprous and the 
insane, it would be better to send them to the existing 
appropriate institutions in and outside the city that care 
for such persons. If the numbers become gradually so 



large that the respective institutions are unable to 
accommodate them because of shortage of funds for 
requisite expenditure or lack of living space, it would be 
advisable to help them to raise funds or contribute a certain 
minimum share of expenses for every additional person sent to 
them by the Rehabilitation Committee than to start new homes 
or institutions for such persons on its own, as it will be much 
more costly to do so, and perhaps the relief rendered may not 
be as effective or good as the established institutions will be 
able to render with their highly specialised knowledge and faci- 
lities developed from long experience. Thus it will be better 
to take the help of institutions like the Victoria Memorial School 
for the Blind at Tardeo Road, the Sonavala Andhakshi Ashram 
for Blind Women and Girls at Andheri, the Dadar School for 
the Blind (educational for children upto 16), the Blind Relief 
Association Industrial Home at Worli, the N. M. Petit Mental 
Hospital at Thana, the Hospital for Mental Diseases at Poona, 
the Acworth Leper Home at Matunga, the Albless Leper Home 
at Chembur, etc. 

Those Needing Constant Medical Attention to be sent to King 
George V Infirmary. There will be another class of defectives, 
diseased or infirm, who will require constant medical attention 
or specialised treatment. The best place for such people 
would be the King George V Memorial Infirmary, which 
is conveniently situated in the City and where they 
can get both medical care and nursing. With some 
expansion, if necessary, on its available grounds, it can 
accommodate a much larger number than 80 to 100 as 
hitherto of the acute cases needing constant medical care, and 
if funds have to be made available for the cases sent to it by 
the Rehabilitation Committee, it would be financially more 
advantageous to do so than to found another similar institu- 
tion with tlie same purpose, as will have to be done for the num- 
ber of chronic and acute deformed and defective that will be 
found with or among the beggar population of the City. This 
institution has still spacious grounds at its disposal and with 
the augmentation of some staff and one or two cheaper structures, 



it can easily take in about 100 to 150 cases more if their main- 
tenance charges at about twelve to fourteen annas per person 
are provided* 

Infirmary for Others and Asylum for the Aged. The next 
type of Infirmary ( <^|<td-$W ) that we require will be 
for the paralysed, deformed, deaf and dumb, those who have 
lost a limb, and such others, but not requiring constant medical 
attention or nursing. For such types of cases, the best 
place for an Infirmary will be one close and attached to the 
Industrial Home where the able-bodied persons are to be 
lodged. For, the ayahs, ward-boys, attendants, sweepers 
and others, who will be required for taking care of these,, 
can be found and trained from among the able-bodied men 
and women ; the cooking can be done by the kitchen de- 
partment for the feeding of the able bodied persons and the 
same supervising and clerical staff can look after the institution 
with the help of a matron, a few nurses and ayahs, thus saving 
a considerable amount in the cost of running a separate infir- 
mary at a detached centre. Besides, some of the defectives 
can, as stated above, use their hands and legs and give some 
productive service, if and when possible. A further advantage 
will be the possibility of training which the attached Infirmary 
will afford to able-bodied men and women as ward-boys, atten- 
dants, ayahs, domestic servants and the like. 

For the -.same reason, the Asylum ( ^-f^TTT ) for the 
aged and infirm should also be located near the Industrial Home 
so that those, who can do some light work, may do so and if 
they are too old and infirm, the work of attending to their needs 
may be done by men and women drafted from the able-bodied 
section of the inmates of the Industrial Home. Besides, located 
as these various institutions will be in a less crowded part of 
the outskirts of the city or the suburbs, their running will cost 
much less than if they were located in the city, where they need 
not be. I believe Chembur will be a very suitable place for such 

The Aged, Infirm and Defective will be a Fairly Heavy Liabi- 
lity. All these three types of the diseased, deformed or infirm, 




aged and infirm, and ordinary defective infirm will require feed- 
ing, clothing and lodging, and some medical care and nursing. 
iThey will be a fairly heavy liability, and a constant one at that, 
until their numbers are gradually reduced by a better care of 
the poor and destitute by some sort of country-wide legislation 
like Poor Law or Social Insurance. For, till then, the beggars, 
destitutes and poverty-stricken will be producing underfed, 
under-nourished, maimed and mutilated progeny easily prone 
to disease, defects and deformities. 

The Main Objective of the Industrial Home, the Rehabilitation 
of the Beggar or Destitute. It will happen that some of the 
able-bodied men and women may give trouble in the Industrial 
Home, some may commit small offences, thefts, etc. ; some 
may be idlers, some shirkers, some may be violent or querulous 
and the Guardian Superintendent and his subordinates will, 
therefore, have to be given certain powers to punish for 
first, second, third or frequent offences or breach of disci- 
pline. These punishments may be suited to the gravity of the 
offence, but the first general objective of the Home should be 
to reform or reorientate the inmate through indirect and 
persuasive or educative influence by providing a suitable at- 
mosphere in which he or she lives and works. The idea of 
condemnation or punishment should be absent as far as possi- 
ble in the normal routine of the Home to which the beggar 
is first introduced. It should not be taken to be a Reformatory 
or Prison but a real Home for Rehabilitation, and the spirit of 
genuine helpfulness through understanding of the past and 
present life-history and condition of the individual beggar 
and beggar-family should actuate the rehabilitation efforts of 
the Home and its officials. It is with this idea that two posts 
of an Honorary Psychiatrist and a paid trained Assistant have 
been proposed on the staff of the Industrial Home and Infir- 
mary as such help will also be required for dealing with several 
problem cases that will be inevitably found among this class 
of detribalised population of life-long beggars. 

Work-House or Penitentiary for the Habitual Offender orlncorri- 
gible> However, with the best of atmosphere and intentions, there 



will be hardened souls who will revolt against discipline and the 
so-called confinement in a reform home. Minor punishments 
such as reproach, withholding of a meal, prolongation of the 
period of remand in the Home, or not allowing the good-behavi- 
our period for earlier release, etc., may be inflicted in case of 
deliberate and frequent violation of discipline or bad behaviour 
by the Guardian Superintendent or his Assistant. If the in- 
mates are still unrepentant, cause trouble or refuse to submit 
themselves to discipline, a charge sheet may be framed against 
them and they may be produced before a Magistrate who may 
give a punitive sentence ranging from a few days to some months 
in the Work*Hou$e or Penitentiary ( ^fK-^IHI ). The incor- 
rigibles and those that are caught begging a third time after 
two previous convictions and remand for begging may be sent 
to this institution, where the treatment should be humane but 
where discipline should be firm and the offenders are put to hard 
work such as of grinding corn, agriculture and dairy work, etc., 
in addition to all the household work for themselves such as 
sweeping their own premises, cooking their own food, washing 
their own clothes, etc. However, the spirit pervading the Work- 
House or Penitentiary should not be exactly that of a prison 
and the inmates should not be brutalised or hardened into 
criminals by unduly harsh treatment. The object should be to 
make the inmate or offender feel sorry for his offence, violation 
of rules, breach of discipline or persistent anti-social behaviour 
and bring him round. The officials of the Industrial Home 
and particularly the psychiatrists should not be entirely out of 
touch with the inmates of the Penitentiary, and gentle methods 
of reform through persuasion and some kindness should be 
simultaneously employed. 

Its Management. For the above reasons, however, the 
institution recommended above will have to be located not far 
from the Industrial Home, (though it should be at some distance 
from it), and should be in its own enclosure with a necessary 
wall. The officials in charge should be different from those of 
the Industrial Home at least after the number of such incorri- 
gibles has reached over 2Q or 25. This institution should not 



be started till some experience in the running of the Industrial 
Home has been acquired. 

Treatment of the First, Second and Third Remands and of 
Absconders. A word or two may be said here about 
the remand of the beggar to the Shelter and hous- 
ing him in the Industrial Home. At the first arrest, 
as we have already indicated before, we need not treat 
him harshly but try our best to rehabilitate him if 
he is amenable to such kindly treatment. The Shelter Super- 
visor may have the power to release him under circumstances 
already stated, before his term of remand for three months or 
less expires. The Guardian Superintendent of the Industrial 
Home and Asylum-Infirmary should have similar powers of 
releasing the inmates after a shorter or longer period on the 
first arrest and remand, if he is satisfied that the inmate so re- 
leased is genuinely desirous of going back to normal life and 
will not revert to begging. 

On the second arrest of a released inmate, however, the term 
of institutionalisation will have to be longer, say six months, 
and he will have to remain under strict surveillance, and his 
movements and freedom in the Industrial Home will have to 
be curtailed. Such second arrests will have to be housed in a 
separate shed, perhaps under a watchman in order to prevent 
them from absconding. That is also the reason why we have 
suggested a wall or enclosure for the Industrial Home of the 
able-bodied and the engagement of night and day watchmen. 
In case of the second remands, the Shelter Supervisor or Guard- 
ian Superintendent should have no power to release, but if 
he is satisfied that after three months of stay, the inmate may 
be released with advantage, he may make a recommendation 
accordingly to the Management Committee or to the Magistrate 
who may pass orders as he thinks advisable. 

As regards the Magistrates before whom the arrested beg- 
gars may be produced, they can be either a special panel or 
panels of Honorary Magistrates or Stipendiary Magistrates who 
may appoint particular hours of the day two or three times a 
week for hearing and disposing of such cases of beggars pro- 



duced before them by the Police or the authorised Agents of the 
Rehabilitation Committee. 

With regard to those arrested for a third time for begging, 
and especially those who had absconded from the Shelter, In- 
dustrial Home, Asylum or Infirmary, stricter punishment and 
control may be necessary. So long, however, as they are willing, 
they may be put to productive work ; if they refuse, shirk, mal- 
linger or commit breaches of discipline or commit frequent 
offences they must be dealt with as a class of incorrigibles. It 
will, however, be a matter for consideration as to whether able- 
bodied inmates should be allowed to remain in the Industrial 
Home longer than a year. If they are such as to be unable 
to find work or look after themselves, give no trouble and like 
to remain under the sheltered care of the Institution, willingly 
doing the entrusted work, the institution should undertake the 
responsibility of housing, feeding and providing productive work 
for such persons in their interest as well as of the entire idea 
of rehabilitation. But generally it should be the aim of the 
institution to train and rehabilitate the able-bodied person in 
such a way that he is able to take care of himself as an ordinary 
citizen after institutional care of a short duration. For the 
same reasons, those destitutes, .who, instead of resorting to beg- 
ging, voluntarily seek refuge in the Shelter or Industrial Home 
will have to be provided for in a suitable way after proper in- 


Organisation, Management and Finance. As already 
stated above, the tackling of the beggar question is a 
country- wide problem and it will ultimately have to be handled 
on that scale if a satisfactory solution thereof is contemplated. 
In the long run it will certainly defy scattered and desultory 
efforts of individual cities or provinces, for, the beggars migrate 
from long distances and a majority of those found in a city very 
often belong not to the city itself nor to the province in the sense 



that they are born there, but to other cities or provinces. 1 For 
the effective handling of the problem, repatriation and prohibition 
of unauthorised immigration into the city of foreign or non-in- 
digenous beggars will have to be two important remedial mea- 
sures, and to achieve that co-operation between Provinces and 
States, co-ordination and legislation on an all-India basis by 
the Central Government will be necessary. That stage, may, 
however, be long to reach, even though inevitable at last, once 
the problem of beggars is begun to be seriously tackled by the 
metropolitan cities. 

However that may be, we have already stressed the neces- 
sity of close co-operation between the Provincial Government, 
the Municipal Corporation and the citizens in general for a 
proper handling of the beggar problem in every city. All the 
three bodies will have to share the responsibility not only of 
raising the finances but also of management and supervision 
of the institutions as interested parties. 

Finance. A Small Percentage of U.I.P. Tax may be set 
aside for this Purpose in the Earlier Stages. As regards 
finances, I believe as the beggars are not all or even 
a majority of them made in the city but come from mofussil 
towns and villages of the province and from beyond the provin- 
cial borders, the Provincial Government must bear the major 
share of the expenses, i.e., in the ultimate analysis, the general 
tax-payer. Now a major portion of the expenses can be met 
if the Government of Bombay at least for some time to come, 
agree to set apart a varying percentage of the Urban Immoveable 
Property Tax for the expenses of this scheme of rehabilitating 

1 For instance, when a survey of the beggars of about 16 Wards of the City of Calcutta 
waa made by Dr. E. Muir of the School of Tropical Medicine some years ago, it was found 
that they were composed f the following indigenous and immigrant population : 

From Non-leprous Beggars Leprous Beggars 

Bengal 471 21 

Bihar &Orissa 
United Provinces 
Central Province 


121 (1,743 22 

78 f 120 

1,155 . 

!8 ^ 
S2 {2 


2,214 224 

(The Calcutta Municipal Gazette, Sixth Health Number pp. 26-28) 

In the cities of Mysore and Bangalore out of 2,800 and 5,749 beggars, the numbers of 
those born outside the State were 1,190 and 2,200 respectively, i.e., 40% being entirely 
from outside the State boundaries. (Vide p. 108 Mysore Beggar Committee Report 1948). 



the beggars. At present they levy in the city of Bombay a 
tax of 8^% or 7% on properties according as their annual 
Ratable Value is above Rs. 500 or 2,000, those below Rs. 500 
being exempted. This tax in the City brings them an annual 
revenue of about Rs. 87,00,000. If $ or f of 1% or 1% of su<jh 
a tax on properties in the City were set aside for the handling 
of the beggar problem, the amount would come to above Rs. 
7,25,000, Rs. 11,00,000 and Rs. 14,50,000 on a total Ratable 
Value of about Rs. 14J crores exclusive of exemptions allowed 
under the Municipal Act. 

The Boiubay Municipality collects the U.I.P., Tax for Gov- 
ernment and receives a rebate of 2% on the total amount for its 
expenses of collection. The Government can earmark this \ 
to 1 % of the Urban Property Tax for the expenses of the beggar 
salvage scheme at least for the time being till other sources of 
taxation can be found, though there is no reason why this source 
may not be allowed to continue even when the U.I.P., Tax is 
abolished or given up in favour of the Municipality as its exclusive 
sphere of taxation. Such a tax can also be collected in other 
provincial cities, as is done at present in Ahmedabad and Shblapur, 
and even in smaller towns to meet what will ultimately be a 
much larger expenditure of rehabilitating the very large number 
of beggars in the whole province. The Municipality can forego 
its rebate on the collection of the tax for this purpose or con- 
tribute a certain amount as its own share. 

As the beggars would hail from all over the province, when 
the expenditure rises over this revenue from the property tax, 
a certain proportion, upto a maximum of the same amount as 
realised from the \ to 1 % tax, may be contributed by the Pro- 
vincial Government from the general provincial revenues in 
order effectively to tackle this problem of beggars which, in its 
ultimate analysis, will be a problem of solving the social malaise 
of poverty, destitution and malingering. Various cities in the 
West contribute part or whole of the entertainment tax towards 
the maintenance of the poor law institutions or levy a stamp 
duty or a small surcharge on transfer of properties or derive 



a small income from marriage tax, all of which can be tried in 
our country also as found suitable. 

Other Sources of Income Private and Public Charities and 
Endowments. Other sources of revenue would be a large 
number of communal Charity Trusts or Endowments, 
wealthy philanthropists and the public or citizens at 
large. There are several Hindu SadSvrats, Dharmashalas 
and Trusts and Muslim Wakfs and Jamatkhanas that 
provide meals to the poor and destitute, feed beggars 
as well as Brahmins, Sadhus and Fakirs. Some have regular 
premises and endowments whose incomes are utilised 
towards distributing dry rations or cooked meals. Some 
of these can be induced to divert their income to feed a fixed 
number of beggars at the Shelter, Industrial Home, Asylum 
or Infirmary for a fixed number of days or 365 days of the year 
according to their income or the amount they can spare for the 
purpose. The required or agreed number may be assigned to 
each of the Sadavrats, Trusts or Wakfs offering their co-opera- 
tion. Similar appeals to feed or bear the full expenses of main- 
tenance of one or more beggars occasionally or all the year round 
can be made to charitably or religiously minded citizens, and 
it is reasonable to hope that the appeal of a well organised body 
or reputed citizens, Corporators and Government Officials will 
not go in vain. 1 

The question of meeting the expenses has often frightened 
all parties concerned, viz., Government, the Municipality and 
the public citizens, apprehending that looking to the enormous 
numbers of beggars counted at the various censuses, the cost 
would be colossal. But then the most veterate beggar rarely 
likes to forego his liberty and remain under discipline for long 
in an institution however inviting the atmosphere thereof may 
otherwise be. One cannot, therefore, subscribe to the fear that 
beggars and vagrants from all over tne country will swamp 

1 A person who gives a sum of Rs 8,000, the interest of which may be used for main- 
taining one helpless, infirm or aged beggar throughout the year, may have a plaque or tablet 
inscribed on a Memorial Pillar of Donors to be kept at a suitable place. This might induce 
several citizens to contribute their mite towards the scheme either in their own name or in 
Che names of their dear departed ones. 


such institutions and be a permanent burden on the cities har- 
bouring them. 

Further, the cost of tackling a social malady or evil syste- 
matically and scientifically is not more in the long run than the 
cost incurred by the Society at large, trying in a loose, disorganised 
manner to palliate the resulting evils or suffering of the festering 
sore (vide Appendix III for costs worked out on a Provincial 
and on an all-India basis). 

The Rehabilitation Committee or Committee of Management 
and Representation thereon. The various institutions can be 
under the charge of Government or Municipality, the 
officials being either under one of the departments of 
the Secretariat or the Municipal Commissioner, with 
^Government or Municipal Service and Pension or Provident 
Fund Rules and Regulations being made applicable to them. 
However, as Charity Trusts, Endowments and the public will 
always be in a position to make a contribution towards the 
expenses of the rehabilitation of beggars, it would be advisable 
to let them have some representation on the management of 
what may be called the Poor Man's Rehabilitation Scheme. 
The Committee of Management may not, however, be made an 
unwieldy body and I would suggest the following tentative com- 
position of the Rehabilitation Committee : 

Eight representatives of Government, including (1) the 
Secretary and (2) Under-Secretary of the Department in Charge, 
(3) the Commissioner of Police, (4) the Commissioner of Labour, 
(5) the Labour Welfare Officer, (6) the Officer in Charge of King 
George V Infirmary, who will also represent the Salvation Army 
and (7-8) two others, preferably representing the two Railway 

Six representatives of the Municipal Corporation, inclusive 
of the Mayor and the Municipal Commissioner or his Deputy, 
and four Corporators. 

Four representatives of the Sadavarts, Wakfs, Trusts, etc., 
donating not less than Rs. 1,000 in cash or kind per annum 
appointed at a meeting of one representative of each of such 



trusts called by Government for the purpose at a place appointed 
by them. 

Four representatives of the donor citizens of Rs. 100/- per 
annum and upwards elected at a meeting of such donors in the 
year, called by Government on an appointed day for the purpose. 1 

President, Vice-President, Secretaries, and other Office- 
Bearers. The Secretary of the Government Department in Charge 
may preside at the meetings called once a month or oftener as 
required, or the Committee may be allowed to elect its own 
President for a term of 3 years, so that the services of a person 
conversant with the working of the institutions may be avail- 
able, which would not happen if the President were to change 
every year. A Vice-President to preside in the absence of the 
President ; he may be elected. One of the members and one 
of the superior officials in charge of one of the institutions, pre- 
ferably the Industrial Home, may act as Jt. Hon. Secretaries, 
the non-official Jt. Secretary holding office for three years in 
order to preserve continuity of working. 

The officers in charge of the Shelter, Industrial Home, 
Asylum, Infirmaries and the Work-House or Penitentiary may 
be ordinarily allowed to attend the meetings and when their 
presence is not required, they may be requested to leave the 
meetings for the time being. They may supply the required 
information to the Committee, whereas the Guardian Superin- 
tendent of the Industrial Home and Asylum and Infirmary 
may act as the permanent Jt. Secretary of the Committee. Foi 
purposes of co-ordination of the wx>rk of various institutions 
under the Scheme, he may be appointed as the supervising 
authority over all of them. 

Much will depend upon the interest the members of the Com- 
mittee may take, but much more certainly on the officials chosen 
to take charge of the various institutions. They will have to be 
men of training, vision and adaptability with a broad outlook on 
life, broader human sympathies, and vigour and zeal for execution. 

1 It would be advisable to appoint on the Committee one or two representatives of the 
Children's Aid Society so that easier cooperation and interchange of experience between 
the Society and Rehabilitation Committee may be rendered possible to the advantage of 
both the bodies. With the same end in view it may be helpful to appoint one representa- 
tive each of the Social Service League and the Salvation Army on the Committee. 



In any case they must be men who have received some training and 
practical experience of the type of welfare work they will be called 
upon to do. 

The Problem will have to be Tackled Gradually as 'Funds* 
Accommodation and Arrangements Permit and not All at once. 
The above is a rough skeleton of a scheme for handling the 
rather difficult but not bafflng problem of beggars. It will 
have to be discussed in greater detail by a committee or con- 
ference of interested and experienced members, suitably amended 
as required and any lacunae duly filled in. The problem will 
present difficulties in the initial stages but they will not be in- 
surmountable if the Government, the Municipality and the citi- 
zens in general are willing to play their respective part and 
begin on a modest scale. None should think that the entire 
beggar population of the city should or could be arrested and 
institutionalised in a day, a month or a year. Effect may be 
given to the enactment gradually and arrests may be made in 
smaller batches as our facilities permit. If the proposed insti- 
tutions are filled up sooner than expected, the seizure activities 
may be slowed down till more room, more facilities and the 
requisite funds are available. 

A programme of arrests after the enactment of legislation 
may be prepared and those suffering from loathsome sores, 
leprosy, crippling defects and contagious or infectious diseases 
may be arrested first and appropriately dealt with as suggested 
above. Batches of able-bodied men and women of a pestering 
and persistent type, well known to all pedestrians and the public 
travelling by bus, tram and train, may be attended to in manage- 
able numbers later or simultaneously from certain places popular 
with the beggars. This will have a very salutary effect on a 
large number of the begging fraternity and their leaders or orga- 
nisers who may then be compelled to direct their attention 
elsewhere. It is a remarkable fact observed wherever legislation 
for the prevention of beggary has been introduced that, almost 
on the first impact of its enforcement, from 50 to 75% of the 
beggar population of the place somehow or other makes itself 
scarce in a very short time. 



The Present is an Opportune Time for Handling the 
Problem. Accommodation Available. The present is an opportune 
time for making a start, for the accommodation for the initial 
two Institutions most necessary for our purpose, viz., the 
Shelter and the Industrial Home with two Infirmaries and 
Asylum for the aged, can already be made available. There is 
room for 70 to 80 infirm and about 150 destitute inmates at 
the King George V, Memorial Infirmary and Lady Dhunbai 
Home for the Destitutes at Haines Road, and accommodation 
for 500 to 600 inmates in the sheds erected for the Evacuation 
Camp at Chembur. With further negotiations with the autho- 
rities in charge of the two institutions and with suitable 
legislation which can be passed expeditiously, the work can 
begin after the initial personnel has been engaged. No doubt, a 
good deal of hard work lies ahead of the organisers, but the 
problem calls for such work and its successful solution will be 
its own reward. 

From the city the handling of the problem may spread to 
other sister cities in the province and with mutual co-operation 
to the entire province in due course. Later, the inter-provincial 
problems of repatriation, bearing proportionate expenditure of 
its own provincials, etc., may have to be tackled and the Central 
Government may have to be moved to legislate on an all-India 
basis. 1 These are inevitable corollaries, but the first spade work 
has to be done by and in the metropolitan cities. The problem 
after all cannot be so gigantic as to defy all earnest attempts, 
which, we must remember, have not been properly and adequately 
made so far; and if systematically tackled, the efforts will yield 
results, if not immediately, certainly in due course. But 
there can be no twa opinions about the fact that a beginning 
has to be made some day either by Government, Municipalities 
or some citizen public. 2 

1 It may be of interest to know that the acuteness of the beggar nuisance is so keenly 
felt in several cities of India and Ceylon that either legislation has already been enacted or 
bills have been introduced making begging an offence and providing for institutional relief 
in the following Provinces and States, viz. : 

Aete: Colombo (1906), Madras (1041), Hyderabad-Deccan, (1941), Lucknow (1942). 
Rules in Municipalities, Railways, etc. Indian Railway* (1941), Bangalore (1940), 

Cawnpore (1939), Nagpur (1941). Bills by Committees appointed report C.P. Govt. 

(1942-8). U. P. Govt. (1941), Sind (1940), Mysore (1941), Cochin (1940). 

2 The Scheme has been worked out with a view to make it applicable to large cities. 



Smaller towns will however have similar problems to face though on a minor scale. Each 
small town may not be able to provide the different kinds of institutions required for different 
types of beggars, nor can they afford singly to incur such expenditure. Besides, if the num- 
ber of persons to be cared for is small, it would be wasteful to provide different types of in- 
stitutions and engage efficient personnel for each one of them as required. For such smaller 
towns, it would be better to combine and locate the yarioug institutions in one central and 
convenient place and bear proportionate expenditure according to the number of beggars 
in their particular jurisdiction. Several neighbouring taluka towns or a whole district can 
thus combine, avail themselves of the existing specialized institutions for lepers, blind, insane 
or cripple in the District and only found such additional institutions as are required in a 
conveniently accessible and suitable centre, contributing their proportionate quota of expen- 
diture to the entire Scheme. One or more towns will either have to take the initiative in 
such cases or the head of the District will have to do so inviting Government officials and 
local bodies to a preliminary conference to work out the details of such a scheme for the Dis- 
trict or a group of towns. 




Mr. John Barnabas discusses the need of legislation for the 
elimination of beggary and shows how this need was met 
in some of the countries of the West. Further, he points 
out the existing legal provisions in India which could be used 
for the control of vagrancy as well as the merits and demerits 
of the various Bills and recent Acts enacted for the pre- 
vention of beggary. In the light of our experience and that 
of the West, he makes valuable suggestions for the framing 
of an ideal Vagrancy Act. 

FRHAPS India is the only country in the world where 
fourteen lakhs of its population wander about the streets 
with perfect freedom, living on the spontaneous, un- 
organized charity of individual citizens. Again, it is 
India where alone the Census Report can consider fit to list 
* beggary ' and * vagrancy ' among the occupations or means 
of livelihood, though unproductive. Still again, in this age 
of science, it is India which unlike other prgressive countries, 
gives beggary a professional status. Though beggars may 
be found in other parts of the civilized world, it is here that 
the public without the least feeling of disagrace tolerates per- 
sistent, open and methodical begging in public places without 



let or hindrance. While in the West the beggar begs on the 
sly and that too under the cover of some petty trade and the citi- 
zen gives alms with a feeling of remorse, in India the beggar 
begs importunately with the attitude of one demanding his daily 
wages or with the contentment of one proudly carrying on his 
parental prof ession ; the citizen, in his turn, doles out his charity 
with religious unction and the self-satisfaction of doing a good 
deed. Indeed, public begging is so common in our country 
largely because, on the one hand, it carries with it no invidious 
implications while, on the other, it claims to have the support 
of religion. 

As a result, the beggar in India has taken undue advantage 
of his social liberty, or has been forced to do so by circumstances 
over which he has no control. Similarly, the public has mis- 
judged its social obligation, its religious duty and its economic 
responsibility. It has yet to realize that the maintenance of 
vagrants at public expense is contrary to sound economic law, 
detrimental to the common good and unscientific as philanth- 
ropy. The beggar's existence on the street, as has been pointed 
out elsewhere in this book, is a great menace to public health. 
And, what is more, it is disastrous to the normal growth and 
development* of the personality of the beggar himself. 

Does Religion Sanction Beggary'! What then shall we do 
with him ? How shall we tackle this problem ? The fact that 
beggary and charity are closely associated in the popular mind 
with religion makes it all the more difficult to put through mea- 
sures of control. The common belief is that beggary has the 
sanction of religion and that individual almsgiving is essential 
for salvation. Hence, any attempt to prevent beggary naturally 
meets with opposition. If one were to read the reports of dis- 
cussions on the beggar problem in Corporations and other bodies 
during the 20's of this century, he would find ample evidence 
of vehement opposition on religious ground to measures proposed 
for the prevention of public begging. The poor are always with 
us, they say, and the beggar is there as a perpetual reminder 
to the more fortunate of the miseries of mankind a reminder 
which may have a sobering effect on the natural tendency of 



the average man to be worldly. Then again, the beggar is 
there, we are told, by divine sanction to give an opportunity 
to the privileged to be charitable and fctore up merit for their 
own salvation. He undergoes physical damnation for the spi- 
ritual benefit of others ! If the beggar thus fills a moral neces- 
sity in society, why should, they ask, the State try to eliminate 
beggary and thus deprive others of the opportunity of attaining 
Nirvana through giving of alms? 

Is this view tenable ? Does religion really sanction beg- 
gary ? As far back as 1919, the Bombay Government appointed 
an influential and representative Committee to consider and 
formulate proposals for the prevention of professional beggary 
in the Bombay Presidency. Regarding the status of 4 religious * 
beggars, the Committee consulted fourteen heads of religious 
denominations of Hinduism and Jainism, and twenty-three 
gentlemen of Muslim faith. In addition to these, they consulted 
six leading citizens in each of the districts of the Bombay Pro- 
vince, recommended by the District Magistrates. The gist 1 
of this interesting and valuable finding is given below : 

1. 4fc There is no such thing as professional beggary among 
the followers of (1) Zoroastrianism, (2) Jainism in its two schools 
of Murtipujaks and non-Murtipujaks, and (3) Vaishnavite School 
of Vallabhacharya and Swamy Narayan. Similarly, among 
high class Sanyasins of the Shankaracharya Smarta School 
the nuisance is comparatively insignificant. 

2. "A large majority of professional religious mendicants 
who infest public streets come out of certain sects or denomina- 
tions like Bawas, Bairagis, Jangams and Nagda having no re- 
ligious or secular education. 

3. " There is a concensus of opinion among religious heads 
of recognised denominations of Hinduism that although begging 
is permissible among those who renounce the world, the present 
mode of going-a-begging in public streets and thoroughfares 
is unjustifiable. 

The Committee found some difference of opinion regarding 

1 As summarised by Mr. and Mrs. Kodanda Rao and published in a Pamphlet brought 
out by the Soeiety for the Elimination of Beggary in Nagpur. 


Islamic sanction for beggary, but even those who thought that 
the ' asking and making of charity' was sanctioned by Islam 
agreed " that the pest of beggars on public streets ought to be 

The final conclusion of the Committee was as follows : 
** The opinions collected by us leave no room for doubt that 
whatever may be the interpretation of the texts of Hindu or 
Mohammadan sacred literature on the questions of begging, 
there is a concensus of opinion that begging in public streets 
and places as a profession is contrary to modern notions of re- 
ligious sancitity." 

Similarly, a special committee, appointed by the Mysore 
-Government to examine the problem of beggary in Mysore State 
and to suggest measures to eliminate it, recently issued its Report. 
One of its most interesting sections 1 deals with the question 
Is Beggary in India Enjoined by Religion ? The conclusion 
reached by the committee is that in Hindu Law only an ascetic 
is allowed to beg. And even he who embraces asceticism must 
first make provision for the maintenance of his wife and sons. 
As for Islam, the direct descendants of the Prophet stated 
"" Curse be on him who, though capable of bearing his burden, 
throws it on another." Islam also ordains for the fakir the 
Muslim religious mendicant that his " first duty is to earn his 
livelihood by hard work." Likewise, Zoroastrianism does not 
enjoin begging : " Man is born to work and prosper, not to 

rest and rust Work is the law of life, for the poor 

and the rich alike." 

The authentic findings of the above two committees make 
it clear that no religion approves of the sort of begging which 
encourages idleness, nor of indiscriminate charity to idlers and 
loafers. The liberty given to a beggar with infectious disease 
to use public paths, roads and conveyances, and infect the 
healthy public amounts to irrational liberty. And yet lakhs of 
beggars in India are allowed this irreligious, dangerous and para- 
sitic liberty. On this question of liberty John Stuart Mill, 
no unreasoning advocate of interference with personal freedom 

1 Report of the Committee for the Prevention of Beggary in Mysore, 1048, Chapter IV. 



remarked : " Whenever there is a definite damage, or a de- 
finite risk of damage, either to an individual or to the public 
the case is taken out of the province of liberty and placed in 
that of morality and law." The tradition of public charity 
can no longer be allowed to protect the beggar, for that 
tradition is misplaced philanthropy. We need, therefore, to 
resort to more scientific methods of protection, care and rehabi- 
litation of the vagrant. 

Why People Give Alms. Before taking up for consideration 
the legal measures dealing with beggary, we shall examine the 
contention of some who say that beggary would be stopped if 
nobody gave alms. So far back as 1764, Dr. Burns in his " His- 
tory of the Poor Law" asserted that "there is one infallible 
way to put an end to all this, and the easiest in the world, which 
consists merely in non-feasance. Give them nothing. If none 
were to give, none would beg, and the whole mystery and craft 
would be at an end in a fortnight." Admirable as the sugges- 
tion is, it is equally impracticable. People in every country 
and at all times have acted just the other way. The urge to 
give alms, even when the giver and the receiver are both ac- 
cursed, is too strong to be curbed voluntarily. In an interesting 
study of the "Psychology of Almsgiving" Dr. Clifford Man- 
shardt suggests that there are* six main reasons why people give 
alms : 

1. Religious Reasons. Every religion enjoins upon its 
followers the giving of alms. Followers of most religions believe 
in laying up of treasures in Heaven by almsgiving. 

2. Sanction of Custom. In ancient India Brahmins were 
supported by other members of society. Begging in India is 
associated with the ' superior ' class, and therefore no stigma 
is attached. Almsgiving and virtue of pity have been the cele- 
brated theses of the Hindu religious tradition. The " Fakirs " 
claim begging to be their ' ancestral profession.' 

3. Personal Reasons. (a) To experience the glow of hap- 
piness which is associated with the doing of a good deed. It 
satisfies one's ego. We like to receive the thanks and blessings 
of the recipient, (b) The hope of acquiring personal gain. A 



man losing money in the share bazaar or racing gives alms as 
a prayer to get back the money. When the child is ill the mother 
promises alms to the poor before the family deity in return for 
the health of the child. Relatives give alms to the poor when 
a person is dead to lighten the gravity of his sins, (c) The 
blessings of the beggar appeal to certain fundamental human 
wishes : The wish for self-preservation is appealed to when the 
beggar says "may you live long;" the wish for security when 
he says " may you enjoy prosperity," or the wish for progeny 
when he says " may you have many children." 

4. There are many who give alms due to fear afraid of 
the curses of the beggar given in the name of God when a beg- 
gar is refused alms. 

5. Out of Instantaneous Pity. The emaciated baby, the 
mutilated body, the blind, the lame, the leprous, all evoke pity. 

6. The Careless Giver. To the rich change in the pocket 
is a burden to be gotten rid of. 

Thus one can see that the general motive in almsgiving is 
to derive personal benefit. The urge is a selfish one and no act 
having such multiple urges can be withheld without external 
compulsion. The legal way is the only way out. And the ex- 
perience of other countries shows clearly that the problem can- 
not be solved unless the beggar is compelled by legislation to 
quit the streets, and enter institutions provided for him* 
We shall here take the example of a few countries and examine 
their methods of tackling the problem. 

Vagrancy Control in England. " In Tudor times attempts 
were made by law to check almsgiving in so far as it encouraged 
idleness and vagrancy; 1 and as late as 1744 (17 George II) a 
law was passed ^exposing to a penalty of not less than IDs. or 
more than 40s. (or, in default, one month's detention in a house 
of correction), any person who knowingly gave to a rogue or 
vagabond lodging or a shelter and refrained from handing him 
over to a constable." 2 

The problem of beggary is intimately linked up with the 

1 Statute of 27 Henry VIII, e. 25. 

2 Dawson, William H., The Vagrancy Problem, p. 91. 



problem of employment and poor relief. Industrial England 
has guarded against the possibilities of dire poverty, starvation 
and beggary by a system of Poor Laws, Unemployment Acts 
and Social Insurance Schemes. " The first public social service 
to be established in England and Wales was the Poor Law. 
The great economic changes of the 15th and 16th centuries, 
above all the enclosure of arable land for sheep pastures and 
the expansion of urban industry and commerce, gave rise to 
problems with which medieval institutions were incapable of 
dealing. Feudal society was breaking up, and the landless men 
who began to rove the countryside and people the towns could 
not be provided for their adversity by voluntary almsgiving 
or through the mutual assistance funds of decaying guilds. Some 
statutory provision was needed and, after a period of local ex- 
periment characteristic of English social history, a national 
system of poor relief was brought into being towards the end 
of the reign of Elizabeth. The great Act which consolidated 
the Elizabethan Poor Law was passed in 1601 and, although the 
administrative details have been profoundly modified during the 
last 340 years, it remains in principle the basis of our system 
of providing for those who have no other means of support." 1 

In the year 1937 out of a total of about five hundred mil- 
lion pounds spent by Britain on what are known as Public Social 
Services, more than three hundred million pounds were spent 
on poor relief, housing, widows, orphans and old age pensions, 
health insurance, unemployment insurance and allowances. 
It is the expenditure on these items that helps them to solve 
their beggar problem. It takes a network of public social ser- 
vices to tackle poverty in all its ugly aspects. 

In Europe. It is noteworthy that, irrespective of the form 
of Government a country may have, the treatment of the vagrant 
has been carried out most systematically on the Continent. In 
the Swiss Republic this question is regulated by Cantonal Laws. 
The Federal Legislation on the subject, dating from 1850, merely 
orders that vagrants and mendicants shall be dealt with in the 
Cantons in which they may be arrested in accordance with the 

1 Owen, A. D., British Social Services, p. 6. 



laws of those Cantons, yet adding that, if of foreign nationa- 
lity, they shall be expelled from the country. The law in 
force in the Canton of Berne, for example, states that: 

" Vagrancy, namely, the wandering from place to place of 

persons without means and without the object of obtaining 

honest employment, is punishable with imprisonment and 

hard labour not exceeding sixty days, or with committal 

to a labour institution for a term between six months and 

two years ; on the repetition of the offence the vagrant is 

always to be committed to a labour institution." 

Persons who apply for help from a Relief Station and refuse 

to accept suitable work when offered to them may be treated 

as ' shirkers ' and as such they are liable to detention in a labour 

institution for any period between several months and several 

years. The police are empowered to arrest beggars without 

special warrant, and the husbands and fathers who evade their 

domestic responsibilities, and even the town loafer, who hangs 

about the street corners, may be apprehended and committed 

to a Forced Labour House by a very summary process. 

Germany, so dissimilar in its form of Government from 
Switzerland, has dealt with beggary on similar lines. Down 
to the 16th century, Germany was satisfied with the mere prohi- 
bition of mendicant practices. A resolution of the Diet at 
Landau in 1497 simply forbade vagabondage, and ordered the 
authorities to exercise supervision over the beggars of all kinds. 
In 1532 Emperor Charles V in Article 30 of this Penal Court 
Ordinance similarly enjoined the authorities to " exercise 
vigilant oversight over beggars and vagrants," and in 1557 the 
Imperial Police Ordinance sanctioned the issue of begging let- 
ters to poor people for whose support local funds did not exist. 
Inspite of these prohibitive orders, beggary was a terrible nui- 
sance as late as the end of the 18th century. Then it was that 
the idea of the disciplinary treatment of the vagrant took root 
and special institutions came into existence known as Labour 
Houses. When the Empire was established, the practice of 
the various states was embodied in the Imperial Penal Code, 
and Labour House treatment is now the recognised mode of 



correcting sloth, loafing and habitual intemperance and im- 
morality throughout Germany. 1 

Sections 361 and 862 of the Penal Code define as follows the 
offences which may entail detention in a Labour House : 

(1) Whoever wanders about as a vagabond. 

(2) Whoever begs or causes children to beg or neglects 
to restrain from begging such persons as are under his 
control and oversight and belong to his household. 

(3) Whoever is so addicted to gambling, drunkenness, or 
idleness that he falls into such a condition as to be 
compelled to seek public help himself, or for those for 
whose maintenance he is responsible. 

(4) Any female who is placed under police control owing 
to professional immorality when she acts contrary 
to the police regulations issued in the interest of health* 
public order, and public decency, or who without 
being under such control, is guilty of professional 

(5) Any person who, while in receipt of public relief, refuses, 
out of sloth, to do such work suited to his strength as 
the authorities may offer him. 

(6) Any person who, after losing his past lodging, fails to 
procure another within the time allotted to him by 
the competent authority and who cannot prove that 
inspite of his best endeavours he has been unable to 
do so. 

It should be noted that begging according to this law is a 
cognizable offence ; that not only the beggar but one who en- 
courages begging is also liable to punishment ; that all begging* 
and not only importunate begging is punishable by law. (We 
shall later point out the similarity between the wide definition 
of the term * vagrant ' given in this law and that of the Cochin 
Vagrancy Bill.) 

Belgium's Beggars' Depots and Houses of Refuge. Only after 
experimenting in many directions did the legislation of Belgium 

1 We are not able to secure information regarding conditions of vagrancy during the 
Hitler regime. But we have reason to believe that no appreciable change is effected in this 
Bphere by Hitler, at least, no change for the worse. 



for the treatment of vagrants and mendicants establish 
Labour Houses and Colonies for the detention of these offenders. 
Between 1793 and 1891 the Vagrancy Laws went through a 
process of progressive severity. But on the 27th of November, 
1891, the existing law was so amended as to take away from 
these offences their penal character. At the present time the 
beggar, the tramp, and the loafer are dealt with under this law. 
The great difference between the original Belgian Labour Houses 
and the Beggars' Depots of today lies in the fact that the earlier 
institutions were managed by philanthropic agencies, while those 
existing today are State establishments, and form a part of the 
judicial system of the country. 

The Belgian law makes it obligatory upon the State to 
establish three different types of correctional institutions for the 
vagrants and mendicants, viz., Beggars' Depots, Houses of Re- 
fuge and Reformatory Schools. The Beggars' Depots are for 
able bodied vagrants and professional beggars, and for those 
who, due to idleness, drunkenness or immorality, live in a state 
of vagrancy. They can be sentenced to detention in these 
Depots for a period ranging between two years and seven years. 
The Houses of Refuge and Reformatory Schools are for simple 
detention. In order to give the loafer a chance of voluntary 
reformation, he is on the first conviction sent to a House of 
Refuge by way of probation for a period not exceeding one year 
or until he has earned 12s. If reconvicted he is sent to the Beg- 
gars' Depot. In general the House of Refuge is intended for 
vagrants, mendicants, loafers and dissolute persons who deserve 
lighter punishment than that given to incorrigible offenders. 
Article 2, para 3 of the said Act lays down that : 
" The Reformatory Schools shall be devoted to persons 
who are under eighteen years of age and who have been 
placed by the judicial authority at the disposal of the Gov- 
ernment or whose admission has been applied for by the 
authority of the commune." 

The Act provides that the Minister of Justice may order 
the immediate discharge of any person confined in the Beg- 
gars' Depots whose further confinement may appear to him 


unnecessary. Provision is made not only for the separate lodg- 
ing of those below 21 in the Depots but also for the externment 
of adult and able-bodied beggars not belonging to Belgium. 

These few instances of the nature and progress of law relat- 
ing to vagrancy in Europe go to show that their problem is 
essentially the same everywhere. They prove beyond doubt 
that short of penal measures the beggar problem is impossible 
of solution. They make clear the futility of private efforts to 
get rid of the beggar. The experience of the West also indi- 
cates the desirability of organising charity for the good of the 
community, aided or regulated by State legislation. 

Laws in India Applicable to Vagrancy. Organised public 
opinion in India has expressed itself in favour of State action 
against begging since the beginning of the century. The Bom- 
bay Corporation has shown interest in the problem since 1915. 
The Calcutta Corporation has been vocal on the subject since 
about 1918. Apart from the Corporations, public bodies like 
the Women's Associations, Social Service Leagues and various 
other agencies have been advocating State action. 

In India, though there is no full fledged Vagrancy Act as 
yet, it cannot be said that there is no legal provision for pre- 
venting public begging. Before we discuss the recent Bills and 
Acts, we shall consider the available local Acts and regulations 
which, we are told, could be used for checking public begging. 
To begin with, there is the Criminal Procedure Code which ap- 
plies to the whole of British India and it is maintained that 
Section 109 could be used to arrest a beggar. According to 
this Section, if a Magistrate is satisfied 

(a) " that any person is taking precautions to conceal his 
presence within the local limits of each Magistrate's jurisdiction 
and that there is reason to believe that such person is taking 
such precautions with a view to committing any offence, or 

(b) u that there is within such limits a person who has no 
ostensible means of subsistence, or who cannot give a satisfactory 
account of himself," that person may be arrested. 

Though a vagrant might have been arrested now and again 
under this section, it has been applied till now only for rounding 



up * bad characters.' It does not really cover the beggar. B. B. 
Mitra in his edition of the Code of Criminal Procedure (pp. 169) 
quoting a judgment,' 1 shows that "merely to be out of work or 
penniless is not an offence. Many an honest man may find 
himself in either predicament, and in a country where there are 
workless people and no workhouses, persons ought not to be 
exposed to proceedings under Section 109 (b) merely because 
they cannot give a satisfactory account of the manner in which 
they are eking out a precarious existence." Further, till beg- 
ging is legally forbidden begging itself could be stated to be 
his * ostensible means of living.' Hence the Section cannot 
be of much use in prosecuting a beggar. 

The European Vagrancy Act.- - Then there is the European 
Vagrancy Act, 1874, which applies to the whole of India but 
takes care only of the European vagrant. According to Section 
S of this Act, 

" Vagrant " means a person of European extraction found 
asking for alms or wandering about without any employ- 
ment or visible means of subsistence." 
whereas Section 23 lays down that 

" Any person of European extraction found asking for aims 
when he has sufficient means of subsistence, or asking for 
alms in a threatening or insolent manner, or continuing 
to ask for alms of any person after he -has been required 
to desist, shall be punishable whether he be or be not a 
European British subject, on conviction before a Magis- 
trate, with rigorous imprisonment for a term not exceeding 
one month for the first offence, two months for the second 
and three months for any subsequent offence." 
A ' vagrant,' according to the Act, may be sent to a work- 
house or removed from British India at Government expense, 
whereas a beggar, as defined by Section 28, can be given rigo- 
rous imprisonment from one to three months. Just * asking 
for alms' is vagrancy, and asking for alms in a particular man- 
ner and in certain circumstances amounts to begging. It is 
strange that this Act does not make any mention of the juvenile 

1 Victor v. K. B. 68 Cal. 345, 30 C- W. N. 880, 27 Cr. L. J. 497. 



vagrant. In the absence of a specific provision for dealing with 
him, it may be presumed that he will be treated in the same 
manner as the adult. Further, this Act neither recognises the 
possibility of a European vagrant being disabled or suffering 
from any infectious disease nor provides specifically for women 
vagrants. When a European vagrant is arrested every effort 
is required to be made by Magistrates and the Police to find a 
suitable employment for hirn. In the meanwhile he is placed 
in a Government workhouse. If within a reasonable period of 
time no job is found for him, he is removed from India at Gov- 
ernment expense. 

The Lepers Act. We may now turn our attention to the 
Lepers Act. The number of leper beggars in India is very large. 
If only the Lepers Act of 1898 had been applied effectively the 
problem would have been well on the way to solution by now. 
It is an Act of the Central Government, with liberty to the 
Provincial Governments to bring it into force if and when they 
desired. Unfortunately, no Provincial Government has taken 
full advantage of the Act for controlling lepers in its area. The 
Act takes special notice of the ' pauper leper ' whom it defines 
as " a leper who publicly solicits alms or exposes or exhibits 
any sores or wounds or bodily ailment or deformity with the 
object of exciting charity or of obtaining alms, or who is at large 
without any ostensible means of subsistence." Such a person 
can be arrested by any police officer without a warrant ; after 
the Inspector of Lepers certifies him to be a leper, he is to be 
produced before a Magistrate who can send him to a leper asy- 
lum to be detained until discharged by order of the Board or 
the District Magistrate. 

Section 9 of the Act merits quotation, for we consider it a 
very important preventive measure against the spread of the 
disease. It reads thus : 

44 The Local Government may, by notification, in the Offi- 
cial Gazette, order that no leper shall, within any area 
specified under section 3, 

(a) personally prepare for sale or sell any article of food 



or drink or any drugs or clothing intended for human 
use; or 

(b) bathe, wash clothes or take water from any public well 
or tank debarred by any municipal or local bye-law 
from use by lepers; or 

(c) drive, conduct or ride in any public carriage plying 
for hire other than a railway carriage; or 

(d) exercise any trade or calling which may by such noti- 
fications be prohibited to lepers." 

Penalty for disobeying this Section of the Act is fine upto 
Rs. 20/-. Any one who knowingly employs a leper in any of the 
trades mentioned in Section 9, shall be punishable with fine 
which may extend to Rs. 50/-. Thus this Act makes provision 
not only for punishing the leper who spreads the disease but 
also those who permit a leper to do so. 

The C. P. Municipalities Act. In addition to the above, 
there are some Sections of the Municipalities Act in each Pro- 
vince which deal with the beggar. It has been suggested that 
action could be taken under these Sections. In certain cities 
the Police Acts provide sections which are similar to the rele- 
vant sections in the Municipalities Act. Section 206 of the 
the C. P. Municipalities Act, 1922, runs as follows :~ 

" Whoever, in any street or public place within the limits 
of a Municipality, begs importunately for alms or exposes 
or exhibits, with the object of exciting charity, any defor- 
mity or disease, or any offenvsie sore or wound, shall be 
punishable with fine which may extend to twenty rupees." 
This Section is the most unhelpful among similar provisions 
in other cities and provinces. When a beggar is found to be 
begging importunately, a police officer will have to get a warrant 
of arrest, and then, when produced before the Court, the Magis- 
trate can sentence him to a fine which may extend to twenty 
rupees. * Importunate ' begging is very hard to prove ; by 
the time a warrent is brought to arrest the beggar, he will not 
be there to receive it ; even if one succeeded in getting him 
before the Court, the punishment provided is neither deterrent 
nor corrective. The C. P. Government is therefore considering 


a Bill to amend this Section. The Bill contains proposals for 
making begging a cognisable offence. But it has retained the 
word ' importunate ' in its first draft and representations are 
being made by the Society for the Elimination of Beggary in 
Nagpur to delete the word. Fine or/and imprisonment of either 
description or detention in a Poor House is prescribed. There 
is no provision, however to punish those who encourage beg- 
ging or those who employ children to beg. The power of pro- 
secution is vested in the police and there is a suggestion that 
the Magistrates (as on the lines of Section 190 C. P. C.) as well 
as Municipal employees of certain rank (as in the U. P. Amend- 
ment Act) be empowered to take cognizance of the offence. 

The Punjab Municipal Act. Among the provisions to con- 
trol beggary, the Punjab Municipal Act, 1911, Section 151, as 
it stands at present is reasonably satisfactory. The relevant 
portions are given below : 

44 151. (1) Whoever, in any street or public place within 
the Municipality, begs (importunately) for alms, or exposes 
or exhibits, with the object of exciting charity, any defor- 
mity or disease, or any offensive sore or wound, shall be 
punishable with imprisonment of either description, which 
may extend to three mpnths, or with fine not exceeding 
fifty rupees, or with both, provided that 
(a) In the case of a first offence, the court may, if it think 
fit, instead of sentencing the convict to any punish- 
ment, release him after due admonition ; 
(b) in any case, the court may, if it is satisfied of the ina- 
bility of the convict to earn a livelihood, owing to phy- 
sical infirmity or debility, and if the person in charge 
of any Poor House in the Municipality certifies that 
he is willing to receive him, direct that the convict 
be received into such Poor House, after being released 
on entering into a bond, with or without sureties, to 
appear and receive sentence, when called upon during 
such period not exceeding three years, as the court 
may direct. 
(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of 



Criminal Procedure, 1898, an offence punishable under 
this section shall be cognizable ; and notwithstanding any- 
thing contained in this Act, a court may take cognizance 
of such an offence in the manner provided by Section 190, 
C. P. C. 1898." 

Much of the effect of this Section is lost by the qualifying 
word * importunately.' Apart from the fact that it provides 
for imprisonment which may extend to three months and/or 
a fine not exceeding fifty rupees, it provides for admonition and 
release for the first offence. As per Section 151, (1) (b) the 
court does not sentence him to detention in a Poor House. But 
in case a Poor House is willing to take him in, the court permits 
his entry there after having signed a bond for good behaviour 
for a period not exceeding three years. This method of tackl- 
ing the beggar is not to be found in any of the other relevant 
Sections. Though this provision could be used to check beg- 
ging in the Punjab no attempt is, however, being made in that 

The Bombay City Police Act. Turning now to other pro- 
vinces, we find that Section 121 of the Bombay City Police Act, 
Section 64 of the Bangalore Police Law and the Bangalore Muni- 
cipal Bye-law N. 21, Section 13-A, are very similar. They both 
penalise not only importunate begging but all begging; they 
penalise not merely those who beg but also those who direct 
begging or employ children under their control to beg ; they 
provide for imprisonment which may extend to one month as 
an alternative to, or in addition to, a fine not exceeding fifty 
rupees. It can be clearly seen that these Municipal provisions 
and the Police Acts are such that they could be made use of to 
prevent begging if amended in certain respects. It is equally 
true that unless We pass a complete Vagrancy Act the problem 
will not be solved. But to make a beginning, some Provinces 
have amended their legal provisions and in others amendments 
are under consideration. 

The Madras City Police Act. 1888. This Act was amended 
by the Madras Government (by the Governor while acting under 
Section 93 of the Government of India Act, 1985) on the 18th 



May, 1941. Any Police Officer may arrest a beggar found beg- 
ging, without a warrant, and the court may sentence the beg- 
gar to imprisonment which may extend to one month or/and 
fine him not exceeding fifty rupees, or in case there is a Work- 
house he may be sentenced to detention there for a period not 
exceeding three years. If the accused is below 16 years of age, 
he shall be tried by the Juvenile Court. The Act provides for 
Workhouses for the detention of the able-bodied and * special 
homes' for the detention of those who are ' not physically ca- 
pable of manual labour.' 

The existence of the Madras Children Act, 1920, is fully 
recognized by the framers of this amendment to the Police Act. 
The ordinary courts are not allowed to try juveniles below 16 
years. It is now the function of the Juvenile Court. Since 
a difference is made between children who are below 14 and 
those who are between 14 and 16, the punishment it gives 
to the latter group is practically the same as that given to the 
adult beggar, that is, they may be sentenced to Workhouse 
and special homes. But, 

71-K (2). " If the Juvenile Court finds on enquiry that 
any person brought before it under sub-section (1) has 
not attained the age of 14 years and is guilty of an offence 
under Section 71 -A and that he : (a) has no home or 
settled place of abode or visible means of subsistence, or 
has no parent or guardian, or has a parent or guardian 
who does not exercise proper guardianship, or (b) is desti- 
tute and both his parents or his surviving parent or in the 
case of an illegitimate child, his mother, are or is under- 
going transportation or imprisonment, or (c) is under 
the care of a parent or guardian who by reason of criminal 
or drunken habits is unfit to have such care, the Court 
may pass such order in respect of the offender as it could 
have passed if he had been brought before it under sub-sec- 
tion (1) of Section 29 of the Madras Children Act, 1920." 
The main defect of the Act seems to lie in the fact thai 
Section 71-C makes it clear that the operative sections of this 
amendment will come into force only after Workhouses and 


special homes have come into existence. It is probably because 
of this that, though Madras happens to be the first in India to 
take steps to provide adequate legal powers to check beggary, 
it is not the first to start the experiment. 

The V. P. Municipalities Act. In the United Provinces 
it was found that Section 248 of the Municipalities Act, 1916, 
if amended, would enable the immediate tackling of street beg- 
ging in U. P. Public enthusiasm on this matter was aroused 
by the efforts of the Social Service League. Realising that 
social legislation in this country can be enacted only by organis- 
ing public opinion, the Social Service League, after starting a 
Poor House and finding that beggars will not voluntarily seek 
admission, sought the aid of legislation. In the absence of a 
responsible legislature, it was found that it was easier to get 
the existing legislation amended than to get a full-fledged Vag- 
rancy Act, however desirable it may be, passed by a legislative 
body. Thus the movement for amending the Act began. Sec- 
tion 248 of the U. P. Municipalities Act made importunate 
begging punishable with fine which may extend to twenty rupees. 
The U. P. Municipalities (Amendment) Act, 1942, was Gazetted 
on the llth April, 1942. 

According to this Amendment importunate begging is 
made a cognizable offence. The court may sentence the ac- 
cused to imprisonment which may extend to one month or to 
a fine not exceeding fifty rupees or both ; or in places where 
the Municipality has recognised a Poor House, the court may 
sentence him to detention to a maximum period of two years. 
The Rules clearly recognise the existence of various types of 
beggars each of which requires specialised treatment. Rule 4 
provides that : 

" A Poor House shall have one or more of the following 
main sections : (a) Infirmary for the decrepit, disabled 
and diseased, suffering from non-infectious and non-conta- 
gious diseases, (b) Section for beggars suffering from in- 
fectious and contagious diseases, (c) Juvenile Section, 
(d) Workhouse or Agricultural Colony for the able-bodied. 
In each section separate arrangement shall be made for 


Beggars' Colony 

Here they live Disease ana iseggars 

Give and be blessed: refuse and be cursed 


each sex. More sections may be opened as necessary." 

Though this Act does not specifically mention 6 admoni- 
tion ' for the first offence, it is observed that in practice the 
Magistrate does release persons after admonition if they are 
first offenders, and whenever he considers such action to be 
more effective than detention in a Poor House. 

An important feature of this Act is the acceptance of the 
principle of Indeterminate Sentence. A Revision Board, con- 
sisting of the District Magistrate, Municipal Chairman and a 
representative of the Poor House, is empowered to revise the 
sentence of the trying Magistrate. After his admission to the 
Poor Houf.e, if it is satisfied that " a beggar has developed the 
will to work or has found means of livelihood other than beg- 
ging and in general there are circumstances justifying a revi- 
sion of his sentence it shall reduce the sentence or direct hi& 
release." It will be noticed that a similar provision is made 
in the Belgian Law of 1891, where the Minister of Justice is 
empowered to revise the sentence. In Germany the maximum 
period of detention permitted in a Labour House is two years,, 
but it depends entirely on the vagrant himself to effect an ear- 
lier release by reforming his ways. The President or Prefect 
of District has the right to increase or reduce the sentence, but 
in practice the Director of the Labour House is the person who 
does it, for he can either recommend the reduction or enhance- 
ment of the sentence. But at the end of two years the accused 
must be released whether reformed or not. 

The U. P. Municipalities Amendment Act is being enforced 
at present in Lucknow. No beggar has till now been sentenced 
to either imprisonment or fine but about 40 of them have been 
sentenced to detention for periods varying between six months 
and a year in the Lucknow Poor House, run by the Social 
Service League and recognised by the Lucknow Municipality. 

Even cities which have no Poor Houses can enforce the 
Act and the courts could fine the offenders or send them to prison* 
Our experience at Lucknow convinces us of the fact that they 
need not wait till a Poor House is set up, but that if they arrested 
beggars and sentenced some to prison and released others after 




admonition, a large number of those who do not need to beg 
for a living, will give up begging, and the rest will cease to be 
importunate. By the time a Poor House is founded, this pre- 
liminary effort could well pave the way for the initiation of a more 
complete programme of control. 

One of the serious defects of this Amendment Act is that 
the word * importunately ' still remains. In order to make 
effective use of this Amendment this qualifying word must be 
removed. All begging and not only importunate begging must 
be made an offence. It is not easy to define or prove importunate 

I have found by experience that the Magistrate is willing 
to convict the person only if he was arrested when he was " actually 
begging". He interprets begging as vocally making appeals to 
people for help. But in actual practice the spirit and the purpose 
of such a Vagrancy Act would indicate that a beggar may be 
arrested when the prosecutor is satisfied that a person is a 
beggar. The Bengal Vagrancy Bill solves this difficulty 
by describing a beggar as one " asking for alms, wandering 
or remaining in a manner indicating existence by begging." 
A blind boy sits on the road side, silently, expecting 
alms from the public, a blind man squats on a bridge with his 
" Angauchha" spread out in his hands, silently asking the public 
to throw in coins into the outstretched cloth ; a dumb beggar 
with his hands spread out walks slowly and silently through the 
Bazar ; an able-bodied beggar, a few lepers and an old woman, 
all sit in a line near a temple expecting alms. In the opinion of 
a Magistrate these persons cannot be strictly convicted under 
the existing law. I do not think we need imagine that a person 
is begging only when he shouts for it. It is beyond doubt that 
every one of the persons mentioned above are professional beggars. 
A clever plea put forward by some beggars in Court is " I do not 
ask anybody for alms. If someone gives it to me, I take it." 
The U. P. Amendment Act must be so amended again as to include 
the types described above. The purpose of Vagrancy Legislation 
must be to prevent begging in all forms and not to afford loop 



holes to clever beggars to escape through or for unimaginative 
Magistrates and Police to do hair-splitting. 

In Lucknow it was found that according to the Act beggars 
were sent for detention in the Poor House for periods varying 
between 6 to 18 months. At the end of the period sentenced 
for, we must release a person whether he has found means of 
subsistence or not. This defeats the purpose of the Act. It 
would appear the U. P. Amendment Act should be amended in 
this respect on the lines of the Bengal Vagrancy (Ordinance) 
Act. No maximum period of detention should be fixed. A 
person must be released by the Revision Board only when they 
are guarantied of the means of subsistence. Otherwise after 
a brief sojourn in the Poor House they will again take to begging, 
probably in another city. 

Sind Vagrancy Bill. On the 12th April, 1939, Mr. P. A. 
Bhopatkar introduced in the Sind Assembly " The Sind Vagrancy 
Bill," ' a bill to prohibit able-bodied vagrants from begging 
publicly on the streets '. The Bill defines a * vagrant ' as a 
" person found wandering about and begging for alms ", but 
it deals only with the able-bodied beggar. Any police officer 
may arrest an able-bodied beggar, and the court can order his 
imprisonment for a period not .exceeding one month for the first 
offence, not exceeding two months for the second offence and not 
exceeding one year for subsequent offences. If the accused 
says that he is likely to obtain employment in a given place, the 
court may order the police to conduct him to such a place. If 
he fails to get employed within 24 hours, he shall be brought back 
to the court which may punish him as mentioned above. 

This Bill is very defective. The definition of * vagrant ' 
is inadequate. It makes no provision for Work-houses. 
Even if the Bill dealt with the able-bodied beggars only, 
there is no reason why it should not provide for industrial 
and agricultural colonies for their retraining. Experience of 
the vagrant in Europe shows that imprisonment is no solution 
for the able-bodied beggar. He must be sent to specialised 
Workhouses where the beggar, without the disadvantage of being 
dubbed a * criminal ', can be cured of his constitutional laziness. 



The provision to allow him to seek for employment is very de- 
sirable. But, while the European vagrant gets fifteen days to 
seek work and also while the Act requires that the Presidency 
Magistrate or a First Class Magistrate shall assist the vagrant to 
the best of his ability in securing employment, the Sind Vagrancy 
Bill permits only 24 hours to find work and that too without the 
help of the Magistrate. Thus it will be seen that the Bill in 
its present form will serve little or no useful purpose. 

Calcutta Suburban Police Act. A comprehensive Vagrancy 
Bill is before the Bengal Assembly. It has been recently in- 
troduced in the Assembly as a Government Bill. But even before 
the Bill becomes Act, it is possible to arrest beggars under Clause 
17 of Section 40 of the Calcutta Suburban Police Act, 1866. 
This Section empowers the police to arrest any beggar and sent- 
ence him to a fine not exceeding fifty rupees or imprison him in 
lieu of fine. The Provincial Government may declare any institu- 
tion to serve as a Refuge Home for the reception of the aged, 
infirm or incurably diseased persons. In places where there is 
such a recognised Institution the court may sentence the beggar 
to detention for the period prescribed. Though no provision is 
made for any other special home or Workhouse for the different 
types of beggars, it is, as it stands, more satisfactory than the 
C. P, Municipalities Act, 1922, and the proposed Sind Vagrancy 

Bengal Urban Poor Relief Bill In India Poor Law doe& 
not exist in a codified form as in the West. Therefore, the 
Bengal Urban Poor Relief Bill, 1940, must be considered an im- 
portant step towards social legislation in our country. It is 
a Bill "to provide for relief of the poor in the Urban areas of 
Bengal ". Within six months of this Act coming into force 
every Municipality in Bengal will have to prepare (a) a list showing 
names of all disabled persons suffering from leprosy or any other 
contagious disease, who have to rely on public charity for sub- 
sistence and have no other source of income or none else to support 
them ; and (b) a list of other disabled persons including old and 
infirm persons and children below 12 who have to rely on public 
charity for their subsistence. It is made obligatory upon every 



Municipality to segregate and maintain, if possible, all indigents 
in list (a). As for those in list (b) each Municipality is required 
to try and provide funds for their maintenance and, " until 
sufficient funds are provided for, shall take such steps as are 
necessary for guarding against starvation of such indigents 
including raising of voluntary contributions from members of 
the public, government or charitable institutions." 

Most of the beggar problems in India would be solved if 
only such Poor Relief Measures were adopted. We would watch 
with keen interest Bengal's experiment in this important piece 
of legislation. 

Bengal Vagrancy Bill. Poor Relief does not, however, 
eliminate the need of a Vagrancy Act, and therefore Bengal 
has moved in the direction of a Bengal Vagrancy Bill. 1 
Any person found asking for alms, or remaining or 
wandering about in any public place making it clear that he 
exists on public charity can be arrested by any police 
officer and taken before a Special Magistrate. If the Magistrate 
is so convinced, the person in custody may be certified as a vagrant 
and sent by the court to a Receiving Centre when a Medical 
Officer will examine him thoroughly and submit his report to the 
Officer-in-charge of the Centre who, under orders of the Vagrancy 
Controller, may send him over to a Vagrant Home. He will 
remain there till such time as the Controller may decide upon. 
The Vagrancy Controller in this Bill functions very much like 
the Revision Board in the U. P. Municipalities Amendment Act, 
1942, and the Minister of Justice in Belgium. 

It is wisely provided in the Bill that (a) lepers, (b) the insane 
or mentally deficient, (c) those suffering from communicable 
diseases other than leprosy, and (d) children, that is, persons 
under the age of fourteen, be segregated from each other and from 
vagrants who do not belong to any of the aforementioned classes. 
Moreover, it requires the segregation of the male from the female 
vagrants. It is also provided that such vagrants' homes may 
include provision for the teaching of agricultural, industrial or 

1. Since this chapter was written, the Bengal Legislature passed the Bill and is now 
known as the Bengal Vagrancy Act, 1948. Ed. 



other pursuits, and for the general education and medical care 
of the inmates. 

Much like the Continental Vagrancy Acts and the proposed 
Cochin Vagrancy Bill, this Bill also provides for the repatriation 
of non-Bengal beggars. It also punishes the person who '* em- 
ploys or causes any person to ask for alms, or abets the employ- 
ment or the causing of a person to ask for alms, or whoever having 
the custody, charge or care of a child, connives at or encourages 
the employment or the causing of the child to ask for alms 
with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to 
two years, or with fine or with both. Its chief feature is that the 
court does not sentence the beggar to a fixed period of detention 
in a Vagrants' Home, but leaves it to the Controller to release 
him when he considers that the purpose of the Act so far as the 
particular individual is concerned is fulfilled. This provision is 
a great improvement over the usual provision where a beggar 
has to be released after the expiry of his term of detention, 
whether reformed or not. It is reported that the Bengal Govern- 
ment has arranged for the building of six vagrants' homes. A 
Vagrancy Controller and six Managers for the Homes have already 
been appointed. 

It is encouraging to note that some Indian States are also 
taking an active interest in the beggar problem. Hyderabad 
has already passed the Prevention of Beggary Act, 1942. Simi- 
larly, Mr. M. K. Devassy introduced the Cochin Vagrancy Bill 
in the Cochin Legislature on the 10th February, 1940, but, un- 
fortunately, it was not accepted. Baroda has now constituted 
a committee to investigate the beggar problem and make pro- 
posals for its control and prevention. Though Travancore has 
no legislation dealing with vagrancy, a Beggar Relief Centre 
has been started in Kottayam at the initiation of the municipality 
and the citizens of the town. The Government of Mysore appoint- 
ed a committee to go thoroughly into the question of beggary 
in the whole State and to formulate a plan for effectively dealing 
with the problem. The committee has just issued its Report 
and also the Draft Bill for the Prohibition of Beggary in Mysore. 
Hyderabad Prevention of Beggary Act. Unfortunately the 



Hyderabad Act has several defects. It seems to be so framed 
as to make it almost impossible to admit a person to a Poor 
House. Powers of establishment, recognition and supervision 
of institutions for beggars are vested in a chief committee, which 
may be either the Standing Committee of the Hyderabad Munici- 
pal Corporation for the City of Hyderabad, or a Sub-Committee 
of five nominated by the Municipal Committee or the Local 
Board concerned. 

Further, Sec. 7 (1) says that "The Chief Committee may 

establish institutions in suitable places or close down 

any institution established by the public." We cannot appre- 
ciate this id^a of empowering the Committee to close down any 
public institution started for the benefit of beggars or poor 
people. It is expected, however, that the extreme step of closing 
down an institution would be taken only when strong reasons 
justify the adoption of such a measure. 

Institutions, started or recognised or aided by the Chief 
Committee, can secure inmates in two ways : firstly, they may 
accept those who voluntarily seek admission. But every such 
person must execute an agreement with the institution to remain 
in it for not less than two years. Thereafter he shall be subject 
to the same rules as apply to., those who are committed to the 
institution by the court. Secondly, they may admit those whom 
the courts have sentenced to detention. Experience both in 
India and abroad makes it clear that voluntary admissions to 
a Poor House are negligible. When such admission amounts to 
voluntarily giving up of one's right to freedom, it is difficult to 
see how any institution may be expected to get volunteer inmates. 

Admissions through the courts seem to us still more difficult. 
Sec. 16 provides that when a police officer sees a professional 
beggar begging, he should first ask him to refrain from begging 
and leave the place; and if this order is not complied with then 
the police officer is to arrest him after holding a panchnama. It 
is obvious that no beggar will ever contravene such a convenient 
order of a policeman. To ask a beggar not to beg at a given 
time and at a given place does not need a police officer. The 
beggar will obey any ordinary citizen. Granting that one finds 



fcuch a rare type of a beggar who insists on begging when ordered 
by the police officer to go away from there, the law requires the 
police officer to hold a panchnama and then arrest the beggar. 
Our experience of arresting beggars in Lucknow makes it clear 
to us that it is almost impossible to find persons who will agree 
to form the panch ; it will be still more difficult for the policeman 
to get such a panchnama to witness against a beggar. In our 
round-ups of beggars in Lucknow, whenever a beggar created 
a scene on his arrest, the public inevitably pleaded for his release. 

Presuming for a moment that it is possible to find a police 
officer who will be so conscientious as to go through this difficult 
process of arresting the beggar, and granting that it is possible 
to find men willing to form the panch, it is difficult for the beggar 
to get across the court even if he is anxious to enter an institution. 
For the first offence the court may discharge a beggar if he pro- 
mises not to beg again, and no beggar, as far as our knowledge 
goes, will refuse to give such an undertaking. If a beggar comes 
before the court for a second time " he shall not be discharged 
unless a respectable person stands surety for him that he will 
not be guilty of begging by profession, or unless the court is 
satisfied in some other way that he will refrain from it." 

In case a beggar appears for the third time then the court 
may sentence him to detention in an institution, under the 
control or management of the Chief Committee, " for such period 
as is deemed sufficient to render him capable of earning a living 
for his necessaries/' The Act does not mention the maximum 
period to which the court may sentence him. We may get a 
fuller idea if we see the Rules governing this Act. But it is not 
advisable to let the Rules prescribe such an important matter 
which involves a principle. 

Dealing with persons who abscond from the institutions, 
Section 18 says that if such an escaped person is found by a police 
officer he may arrest him after holding panchnama. It is super- 
fluous and unreasonable to require the certificate of a paneh for 
the arrest of a person who is definitely wanted by law. Whether 
he is found begging or not, he is to be arrested if he has escaped 
from legal custody. 



The Act does not reveal any clear idea of the need of specia- 
lised treatment for the various types of beggars. Throughout 
the term " professional beggar " is used. In the Definitions 
Clause the term is so denned that no clear cut differentiation is 
made between a beggar and a professional beggar. The Act 
makes provision neither for the punishment of those who encourage 
^beggary, nor for the repatriation of those who are non-State 
^beggars. Further, it gives no special consideration to the child 
beggar. The purpose of the Act evidently is prevention and not 

Cochin Vagrancy Bill. Now turning to the Cochin Vagrancy 
Bill we find that one of its most interesting features is its definition 
of the vagrant. Section 3(ii) says : 

" Vagrant means (a) any person wandering abroad or 
placing himself in any public place to beg or gather alms or 
causing or encouraging or procuring any child to do so ; 
(b) any person wandering abroad to hawk goods without 
a pedlar's license; (c)any person whose wilful neglect to work 
causes him or her or any of his or her family to go about 
begging ; (d) any person running away, causing his child 
or wife to live upon charity ; (d) any person endeavouring ' 
to procure alms by exposing deformities or by making 
fraudulent pretences ; (f) any person found in a building or 
inside an enclosed yard or garden, for any immoral, unlawful 
purpose ; (g) any person gaming, in an open and public place, 
at some game of chance with cards, coins and other instru- 
ments ; (h) any person telling fortunes or using any subtle 
craft, palmistry or otherwise, to deceive ; (i) any person 
wandering abroad, without visible means of subsistence, 
and lodging in unoccupied buildings, or under a tree or tent 
or in a cart, and not giving a good account of himself; 
(j) any person knowingly living, wholly or in part, on the 
earnings of prostitution, or persistently soliciting in public 
for immoral purposes." 

According to this definition a beggar, a person encouraging 
a child to beg, an unlicenced hawker, a deserter, a gambler, 
a palmist, a prostitute and a pimp all are " vagrants " and 



can be taken action against under this Act. Sub-section (f) of 
this definition makes it possible for a respectable political worker 
to be termed a vagrant if at a given time a political party or 
association of which he is a member is declared illegal and he 
is found working for such party in a building or in an enclosed 
yard or garden. It is difficult also to understand how an unlicens- 
ed hawker and a palmist can be considered as vagrants. Apart 
from this too wide a definition of a vagrant, the Bill in general 
is a very desirable one. All begging is made a cognizable offence. 
The Governm. nt is required to establish Receiving Centres and 
Institutions for the accommodation and treatment of vagrants. 
Due attention is paid to the different types of beggars. The 
general procedure of arrest and conviction is on the same lines 
as the jJengal Vagrancy Bill. 

That professional organisations exist among beggars and 
that some so-called respectable citizens employ beggars to beg 
in public and take a part of their earnings in turn for food and 
protection from the police have been pointed out elsewhere in 
this book. It looks as if Sec. 18 (1) of the Cochin Vagrancy Bill 
is meant to attack this system. It reads as follows : 

" Whenever it shall appear to the Commissioner of 
Police that any person is living on the earnings of vagrants 
within the local areas to which this is made applicable, he 
shall make a report to the Government with the recommenda- 
tion that such person be deported out of Cochin." 

The Government then may arrest him, and after a trial in 
camera may deport him from Cochin for a specified period of 
time. Such a provision is not found in any other Act either in 
India or in the West. An ideal Vagrancy Act will do well to 
include this provision. Another of its interesting features is 
that a beggar, who is not a bonafide resident of Cochin, may be 
repatriated from Cochin only after he had stayed for three months 
in a Receiving Centre and had failed to find employment within 
that period. 

Those causing children to beg may be sentenced to im- 
prisonment, with or without hard labour, for a term which may 



extend to two years, or to a fine not exceeding 500 rupees, or 
both. But unfortunately the Bill proposes to leave the question 
of prescribing the maximum period of detention permitted in 
any institution to the Rules. So important a matter should be 
included in the Act itself, for it will then ensure the acceptance 
of a general principle in regard to detention. 

Mysore Draft Bill for the Prohibition of Beggary. This Bill 
contains several interesting features. It provides for the creation 
of a Central Relief Committee, the establishment of Receiving 
Centres and institutions to meet the needs of different types of 
beggars, classification of beggars, formation of colonies or social 
settlements on the village community model where agriculture 
and cottage industries will be taught, and the repatriation of 
non-Mysorian beggars at Government cost. 

Religious mendicant is included in the definition of ' beggar ' 
but a provision in the Bill excludes him from this category under 
certain conditions. With reference to this, Section 2 (d) states : 

**A person shall not be deemed to be a beggar if he(i) is a 
religious mendicant licensed by the Central Relief Committee 
to solicit alms in the manner prescribed by rules under this Act ; 
or (ii) in performance of any religious vow or obligation as sanc- 
tioned by custom or religion collects alms in a private or public 
place, without being a nuisance ; or (iii) is permitted in writing 
by the Central Relief Committee to collect alms from the public 
for any public institution, whether religious or secular, or for the 
furtherance of any object for the good of the public. 

Thus religious mendicants may be permitted to beg under 
a licence granted by the Central Relief Committee on the re- 
commendation of the Head of the Religious Order to which they 
belong provided they beg without causing nuisance to the public. 
This is a novel provision not found in any other vagrancy legisla- 
tion, and is meant for the purpose of regulating religious mendi- 
cancy with due regard to the sentiments of the people. In 
practice, it is hoped, it would do credit to the good intentions of 
the framers of the law. 

The Bill does not provide for Workhouses but for colonies 
rf the village community type. The colony will take in only 



the able-bodied, the aged, the juvenile, the lame, the cripple 
and the blind. The Scheme includes a separate Sick Ward 
for the treatment of the sick, a Correctional Ward for the unruly 
and the " work-shy " and a Rescue Home for the profligate women. 
It is interesting to note that there is also a suggestion for a colony 
for the mentally defective and insane beggars to be attached to 
the Mysore Government Mental Hospital. 

Special attention is given to the child beggar. The provi- 
sions of the Bill are as hereunder : 

(1) If a person arrested under the provisions of this Act is, 
in the opinion of the officer arresting him, below the age of twelve 
years, he shall without delay be removed to the Receiving Centre, 
whereupon the Officer-in-Charge of the Receiving Centre shall, 
after preliminary enquiry, place him before the Magistrate and, 
if the Magistrate after summary enquiry finds that he 

(a) has no home or settled place or abode or means of sub- 
sistence or, has no parent or guardian, or has a parent 
or guardian who does not exercise a proper wardship ; or 

(b) is a destitute and both his parents or his surviving parent, 
or in the case of an illegitimate child, his mother, are 
or is undergoing imprisonment ; or 

(c) is under the care of a parent or guardian who by reason 
of the criminal or drunken habits is unfit to exercise 
such care ; 

shall declare the person to be a beggar and send him to the Re- 
ceiving Centre : 

Provided that if such a person has a parent or a proper 
guardian, the Magistrate shall call upon that parent or guardian 
to execute a bond and stand surety for that person not committing 
an act contrary to the provisions of Section 3 and thereafter 
release him, but if that parent or guardian himself is a beggar, 
and no other relative comes forward to take care of the person, 
he shall be sent to the Receiving Centre with a declaration as 
provided therein. 

(2) If in the course of the enquiry, the Magistrate is of 
opinion that the parent or guardian, being competent to maintain 
the child, has wilfully neglected to do so, he may in his order 



committing such child to the Receiving Centre direct that such 
amount as he may deem necessary for the maintenance of the 
child be recovered by way of fine from such person or guardian. 

(3) The Officer-in-charge of the Receiving Centre shall 
thereupon send the child to such Institution best suited for him. 

It is suggested that a normal child beggar should not be 
separated from its parent, that the beggar family should be lodged 
in one hut in the Colony and that the foster-parent system may 
be introduced in the Colony for Children without parents. 

Another interesting feature is that the Bill provides for 
Indoor and Outdoor Relief. The former is relief given in any 
Institution under the Act and the latter is relief in cash or kind 
or both. The latter provision is made to take care of those who 
are real destitutes but are ashamed to beg and actually starve 
rather than beg in the open street such cases can only be treated 
by Outdoor Relief. This method, however, is to be adopted 
only in the case of those deserving needy who do not need insti- 
tutional care but outdoor help to prevent them from begging, 
and that too, with the approval of Government. 

To meet the expenses of the Scheme there is to be a Beggar 
Relief Fund but it is not to be raised by taxation. Section 36 
reads : 

" In order to carry out the purposes of this Act, a fund called 
the Central Relief Fund shall be formed. This Fund shall con- 
sist of : (i) Subscriptions and donations ; (ii) Grants from 
Government General ' Revenues, Muzrai or other sources; (iii) 
Grants from Local Boards, such as District Boards, Municipalities 
and Panchayets, and other private or public Institutions ; (iv) 
Fines recoverd under this Act ; (v) Other sources, if any. 

The supervision, direction and control of all matters relating 
to the administration of relief over the whole State is vested, 
according to this Bill, in the Central Relief Committee to be 
constituted by Government. 

Points for an Ideal Vagrancy Act. As India gains experience 
by experimenting with these various Acts dealing with the 
beggar, it should be possible to evolve an ideal Vagrancy Act 
to be passed by the Central Government, and to be put into force 



Name of Law 


Offence : Cognizable or 
Non-Cognizable ? 

1. The Madras City Police 
(Amendment) Act, 1941 
(Amendment to 
Act III of 1888). 

Pine upto Rs. 50/- or imprison-) 
ment upto one month or Workhouse 
Madras upto 3 years. 

2. The U. P. Act No. VIII 
of 1942. 

The U. P. 

(Amendment) Act, 1942. 
(Amendment to Sec. 248 
of the U. P. Mun. Act.) 

3. The Prevention of Beg- 
gary Act, 1941 Hydera- 

4. The European Vagrancy 
Act, 1874. 

Fine upto Rs. 50/- or imprison- 
ment upto one month or both or 
Municipalities Poor House upto two years. 

5. The Lepers Act 1898. 

^. The Cochin Vagrancy 

7. The Bengal Vagrancy 
Bill 1943. 

Detention in an Institution for a 
period sufficient to render him cap- 
able of earning a living. 

A "Vagrant * sent to Workhouse 
till employment is found or till he is 
removed from Br. India. 

A "Beggar" R. I. for one month 
for 1st offence and 3 months for sub- 
sequent offences. 

In Leper Asylum until discharged 
ty the Board or the District Magis- 

The Rules to prescribe period of 
detention (See Sec. 18 (1) (G).) 

To remain in Vagrant Home till 
Hontroller finds work for him, or 
relative or friend stands security. 

8. The Sind Vagrancy Bill 
1938. (Private Bill " 
P. A. Bhopatkar). 

9. The Bombay City Police 
Act, Sec. 121. 

10. The Bangalore Police 
Law, Sec. 64. 

11. The Punjab Mun. Act of 
1911, Sec. 151. 

Imprisonment upto 1 month for 
by 1st offence, 3 months for 2nd offence, 
1 year for subsequent offences. 



Legally it is cogni- 
zable, but in practice it 
s non-cognizable. 


Pauper leper may be 
arrested without war- 



12. The C.P. Municipalities 

Act, 1922, Sec. 206. 

13. The Draft Bill for the 
Prohibition of Beggary 
in Mysore, 1943. 

Imprisonment upto one month or 
ine upto Rs. 50/- or both. 

Imprisonment upto one month or 
ftne upto Rs. 50/- or with both. 

Fine upto Rs. 50/- or imprisonment 
upto 3 months or both, or 1st offence 

Fine upto Rs. 20/- 

Detention in the Colony for re- 
training till the beggar is found 
capable of earning his own liveli- 
hood. Aim not penal but educative 




Nature of Offence 

Punishment to 


Age Limit 


Begging or apply- 


Police Officer. 

Below 16 


ing for alms. 


Begging importu- 


(1) Police (2) Such 

Below 16 



Municipal employees 


as are authorised by 

the Mun. Bd. In 

Lucknow the Sani- 

tary Inspectors. 

Begging anywhere. 

Any Officer, or 


police official can 

arrest after holding 

a panchnama. 

Asking for alms 

Any Police Officer. 

Extenrment at 

when he has suffi- 

Government cost 

cient means of sub- 

if he has no em- 

sistence ; or in a 


threatening ma^iirr, 

or importunately. 

(See Sec. 23). 

One who appears 

He who employs 

Any Police Officer 


to be a pauper leper. 

a leper in a trade 
can be fined upto 

Rs. 50/-. 


Any person liv- 

Police Officer. 

"A Minor' 

' If work for able 

ing on the earn- 

1C years. 

>odied non-Cochin 

ings of vagrants 

s not found with- 

deported out of 

n 3 months, he 


may be repatriat- 


Asking for alms, 
wandering or remain- 

R. I. upto 2 
years or tine or 

Any Police Officer 
authorised by Com- 

Under 14 

Non-Bengalis to 
be repatriated. 

ing in a manner in- 


missioner of Police 

dicating existence 

or the D. M. 

by begging. 

Wandering about 

Any Police Officer. 

and begging. 

Begging or direct- 

Imprison m e n t 

Police Officer. 


ing or permitting 

upto 1 month or 

children under his 

fine upto Rs. 50/- 

control to beg. 

or both. 

Begs or permits 

Imprison m e n t 

Police Officer. 

children under his 

upto one month 

control to beg or to 

or fine upto Rs. 

apply for alms. 

SO/- or both. 

Begging importu- 

Police Officer. 



Begging importu- 



Begging in Public 
place, soliciting alms, 
wandering from door 
to door or exhibiting 
sores etc., for secur- 

Punished with 
simple or rigorous 
imprisonment for 
a term which may 
extend to 3 

Police Officer and 
others authorized 
under the Bill. 

Under the 
age of 12 
years; younj 
boys anc 
girls upto 

N o n-Mysorian 
beggars to be 
repatriated a t 
Government cost. 

ing alms. 

months or with 

the age of 

fine or both. 

18 are also 

Religious mendi- 

placed un- 

cant if he is a nuis- 

der this 

ance and not licensed 


by the Central Relief 



by Provincial Governments if and when they decide to do so. 

There are some important points which, in my opinion, 
should be covered by a model legislation, and they are as follows : 

(1) All begging, and not merely importunate begging, should 
be made an offence. 

(2) Begging should be made a cognizable offence. 

(3) The power to take cognizance of public begging should 
be vested in (a) the police, (b) the magistracy, and (c) such officers 
as may be authorised by the Municipal Boards. We would also 
suggest that certain members of public social organisations, 
under certain conditions and rules, be authorised to arrest beggars. 
(There is precedence for such a practice in the S. P. C. A.). 

(4) Not only the person who begs, but also the one who 
gives alms should be punished. None of the Indian Bills proposed 
or Acts passed deal directly with the almsgiver. In 1899 the 
Canton of Schwyz, in democratic Switzerland, passed a law- 
making " persons who by giving alms, favour begging from house 
to house or in the street " liable to a fine of ten francs. Similarly, 
a police ordinance was issued some time ago in the Ulezen district 
of Prussia to the effect that " giving of alms of any kind whatever 
to mendicant vagrants is prohibited on pain of a fine not exceed- 
ing nine marks." There is no reason why in India if begging is 
forbidden giving of alms should not be prohibited. 

(5) A model Act should pay, as some of our legal measures 
do, special attention to the protection of the child beggar. Punish- 
ment of those who cause children to beg must be one of its pro- 

(6) Care should be taken to define clearly the different types 
of beggars to be treated in special institutions. There is a ten- 
dency to regard all beggars as requiring identical treatment. 

The Bengal Vagrancy Bill, the U. P. Municipalities Amend- 
ment Act, 1942, and the Mysore Draft Bill show a fairly clear 
classification of beggars. Upon such classification will depend 
to a large extent the programme of individualized treatment. 
The Bombay Children's Act has taken care of delinquent children 
as no other province in India has done and the Chembur Children's 
Home is well worth following as a model for a home for destitute 



and delinquent children. We do not mean to tfugg&st that the 
Chembur Home is an example" of perfection, lf btit ^taking OUT Cue 
from that Institution we can build better' 

If the beggar problem is to be tackled isSute^sfiilly -we must 
establish an ideal Workhouse for able-bodied beggars. Nowhere 
in India does such an institution exist. 

(7) As regards the leper beggars, instead of attempting to 
tackle them under a Vagrancy Act, public opinion should in- 
fluence Government to enforce the Lepers Atft'bf' 1898. Pauper 
lepers can well be taken care of by that Act as there is an All- 
India Leprosy Association with its branches in each province 
and most districts. Wherever special agencies exist it will be 
advisable for bodies interested in vagrancy not to cover the same 
ground but co-operate with them. This is an accepted principle 
in modern social work as it saves time, energy and expense, and, 
further, promotes united effort by eliminating unwholesome 

(8) Provision should be made for the externment of beggars 
who do not belong to the plate where they are arrested. 

(9) In regard to the establishment of institutions for various 
types of beggars, we would suggest the following methods for 
each Province. In every town and city of a province there should 
be a Receiving Centre. In every Province there should be one 
central Children's Home, a Labour Colony, a Leper Asylum and 
a Leper Hospital, a Hospital for those suffering from infectious 
diseases, all situated in one city, preferably the capital of the 
Province. The Receiving Centre in each city will also function 
as an Infirmary for the maintenance and care of the infirm* 

We suggest this plan for we do not think , it. is ..financially 
a feasible proposition to have a ring of all these . homes in each 
city. Such organised province- wide solution, pf ( th,e, beggar pro- 
blem is possible only if the Vagrancy Act prpyi^de^. for some such 
measures in the Act itself. ,. f ..... , , 

(10) Considering the fact that among \$\v large population 
of beggars in India a good many suffer frpni -hereditary defects 
as are likely to be transmitted to tjheir childffent, it would b^ 



desirable to jwwide for the sterilization of such persons under 
tfee advice and guidance of expert medical men. 

(11) Segregation of sexes is provided for in most of the Bills 
proposed and Acts passed. While segregation of sexes is neces- 
sary, no concern i* shown anywhere, except in the Mysore Draft 
Bill, to the possibility of an entire family begging and being 
.arrested. In case a husband and wife are arrested either together 
<or separately, the Act should permit the provision of family 
.quarters ia institutions meant for the beggars. If they have 
children of tender age they may be allowed to stay with the 

So fax as tfce Infirmary is concerned too much fuss need not 
be made to keep the .sexes rigidly segregated. The old and the 
infirm living together in their old age will remove some of the 
boredom aatui&l to the life of a disciplined existence in an institu- 
tion. We would like to see these homes for vagrants develop 
on the lines of the Settlements for the * criminal tribes '. 

(12) Much of the delay in coming to grips with the problem 
in various places is due to the guestion of finance involved. 
For years past a controversy has been going on between the 
Government and the Municipality as to who should shoulder 
the responsibility. In December 1938, an important discussion 
took place at tlie Ail-India Local Self Government Conference 
held at the Council Chamber of the Calcutta Corporation. Mr. 
B. N. Roy Ctioudhry in introducing the subject said : 

"The greatest difficulty of handling vagrancy in this 
country arises from want of proper legislation in regard to 
poor relief and it has been a, matter of controversy as to the 
respective responsibility of the local authorities and the 
Government in tegatd to poor relief. The Local authorities 
want to shiftTthe burden on the shoulders of the Government 
and vice ver&a. We are now almost unanimous that the 
subject should be the joint concern of both the Government 
and the local authorities." 

The conferetice ^ftttafljr comclutied that the responsibility should 
be joint, but tfiat the initiation of legislation, without which 
beggary could f*6t ; be tackled, lay with the Government. 



It is neither wise nor possible to depend upon prirAte ^na- 
tions to run these institutions. Government must finance the 
scheme and they must rAisfc the necessary funds by special taxa- 
tion. The Gwalior Markets Act of 1986 (Samvat) prcWidteS for 
the control and disbursal of Dharmaddya, a percentage of 
iricome set apart by mfereli&Ms for charity. Such money is 
available all over India. It is well known that hugfc ammiiits 
are collected at most of the big and small temples and other 
places of worship all ova* India. <5overntnent should take 
courage in both hands and see that such money is spent fofr the 
amelioration of human suffering. The Calcutta Rotary Club 
suggested the increasing of trade licences by 12.5 per cent. The 
Indian Chamber of Commeirce approved of this suggestion. Sonie 
others suggest that taxes on motors, cycles, marriages, telephones 
and public entertainments should all go to the tackling of the 
beggar problem. 

Suffice it to say that the Vagrancy Act must accept the 
principle of levying fresh and specific taxes for the purpose of 
enforcing the Act. That done each Province may dfccide Upoti 
the nature of such taxation. 

There is an interesting suggestion made in Art. 38 of the 
Belgian Law of 1891 : 

" The cost of relief given in execution of the present 
law may be recovered from the persons relieved or from 
those liable for their maintenance. It may also be recover- 
ed from those who are responsible for the injury or illness 
which necessitates the relief." 

That a reasonable amount of responsibility should be laid upon 
those who cause beggary to continue or who promote individual 
beggary to come into existence is a sound theory and may be 
put to test by the proposed Vagrancy Act in India. 

(18) At present the maintenance of Poor Houses is a dise*6- 
tionary function of the Municipality. Government should take 
immediate steps to make it its obligatory function. We have 
already seen that on the Continent it is the joint concern of the 
CMfttfe afcd the Provinces. 

(14) Thete is a tendency in the various Vafegraney Bills 


to provide for short sentences for the vagrant. Experience 
both in England and the Continent points towards the advisa- 
bility of long sentences. The Departmental Committee on 
Vagrancy of 1904 endorse the objections to short sentences which 
have, been advanced times without number by critics of the Va- 
grancy Laws, and advocate sentences of not less than six months 
or more than three years ; but they maintain that there should 
be power to curtail a sentence under certain conditions- No 
useful purpose will be served by sending beggars to Workhouses 
for a very short period. Therefore the Act may well lay down, 
in certain cases, the minimum sentence to be given. 

(15) Every Vagrancy Act has a provision for dealing with 
escape and re-arrest. The suggestion in most cases is to en- 
hance the punishment. While we do not object to such a pro- 
vision in the Act, we are afraid, too much concern is shown over 
the escape of inmates from Poor Houses. Escape of a beggar 
should not be viewed in the same light as that of a convict from 
jaiL If after his escape, he is not found begging and has taken 
to some decent way of living, then the purpose of the Act and 
the Poor House is already fulfilled. Therefore, there is no need 
of enhancing his punishment. But if he is found begging again, 
then there is every justification for drastic steps. Rightly does 
the Departmental Committee on Vagrancy, 1904, observe : 
" If a colonist escapes, and is able to support himself without 
coming within the reach of the law, his escape from the colony 

is no matter for regret if the detention is intended not so 

much as a punishment, but rather as a means of restraining the 
vagrant from his debased mode of life, the risk of his escaping 
need not be regarded so seriously as in the case of a criminal 
committed to prison to expiate his crime." Similarly, Mon- 
sieur Stroobant, Oirector of the unique Beggars Depot of Merx- 
plas in Belgium, has this interesting observation to make : 

" Those who escape are the energetic men who, influe- 
enced by some ruling idea it may be of a family in dis- 
tress or other motives less laudable seek to reclass them- 
selves. They are not always by any means the most corrupt, 
and often when I learn that a fugitive is following regular 



work, I ask the Minister of Justice to suspend the order 
for his recapture. From the standpoint of the general 
security of the establishment the facility to escape consti- 
tutes a valuable safety valve, which it is expedient to re- 
cognise. In truth the latent energies, which imepl a man 
at all costs to seek emancipation from the bondage which 
he has to endure in the Beggars' Depot, are exhausted by 

A Vagrancy Act we do need. But there is danger in ex- 
pecting too much from it. The object of such an Act must not 
and cannot be to make perfect men out of most imperfect mate- 
rial ; it will be the far more modest one of correcting tendencies 
of character and conduct which are socially injurious, with a 
view to returning the objects of care to freedom, if they seriously 
wish to regain freedom, able, under favourable circumstances, 
to take their legitimate place among the citizens of the country. 
Only by setting before ourselves sane and moderate views shall 
we be able to advance towards our goal ; to act otherwise will 
be to waste effort and court certain disappointment. 




While the Beveridge Plan and the American Social Security 
Programme are engaging the attention of the world a daring 
schemes undertaken by the State to provkie social* protection 
for its citizens against want, little or nothing being done in 
India to protect the wage-earners against the hazards of un- 
employment, sickness, old age, and widowhood whtefi frequently 
reduce them to abject poverty. Dr. Kumarappa therefore 
makes a plea for a modest policy of Social Security Programme 
to prevent the pauperization of individuals and families of 
low income level as a part of OUT poet-war vecwastruetion 

IN India poverty and pauperism did mt appear as social 
problems until the disruption of the joint fMiiily system 
and the removal of production from tifoe home to tike 
factory. The modern methods of production feave resulted 
in the accumulation of wealth and its eoncerrtratkm in the hands 
of the few. Failure to give adequate attention to the social 
arrangements involved has given rise to the aqppaUkng evils, of 
industrialism to which workers the world qves? kwtve fatten vietwis. 

* Since writing this (May 194), a Committee, known <M the labour Investigation 
Committee, was appointed in February 1944, in pursuance of a iwseiutiofi of the Tripartite 
Labour Conference held in September last year, to draw up * prejrrarnmc *f Social Security 
for Labour in India. Its terms of reference are to investigate and report inter alia on the 
risks which bring about insecurity, the needs of labour to meet such risks, the methods most 
suitable for meeting such rinks, and housing and factory condition*. 


It has also disintegrated our village economy, so much so, that 
owing to unemployment and poverty thousands migrate from 
rural areas to cities in search of employment making the situa- 
tion in cities even worse. Modern industrialism then is one of 
the major causes of poverty and suffering among the lower 
classes. Industrial accidents, unemployment, disease and old 
age force many of them to take to begging as a means of liveli- 

In the preceding chapters various aspects of this problem of 
beggary have been dealt with. We have also noticed that spe- 
cial classes, such as the aged, widows, the crippled, the blind, 
the feeble-minded, etc., need special care and treatment and 
that organised relief indoor and outdoor must take the place 
of indiscriminate charity. '* All remedies of poverty fall into 
two classes the palliative and the curative the endeavour 
to relieve poverty or the attempt to prevent poverty." 1 Modern 
scientific method is to attack it both ways. While modern cha- 
rity is based on tjie principle of prevention, it does not ignore 
the immediate problem of providing relief for the poor, and the 
needy in our midst. Since social security is a step towards the 
mitigation of poverty, we make a plea for its introduction in 
our country for the protection of the poor, believing that the 
time is ripe for its favourable consideration. 

We are painfully conscious of the rapid changes taking 
place throughout the world. And we too have been drawn into 
the maelstrom^ What the aspect of the world would be after 
the war is beyond the pale of social prognostics. Yet one may 
hazard the general statement that the old order is being swept 
away, structure and spirit. In the melee of social adjustments 
that must inevitably follow the present chaos, the new social 
order must be formed and the nature of that new order will be 
based on our experiences of, and reactions to, the present one. 
It may be frankly admitted that nooncf will regret if the old struc- 
ture, at the altar of which priests in the name of capitalism 
sacrifice human blood and sweat, passes away. But it goes 

*, 19p7,,p, 487. 



without saying that the present system of social living is 
which makes parasitic exploitation thrive, renders sympathy 
between man and man almost impossible, creates and kindles 
hatred between members of different strata of society and denies 
good living to the masses of mankind. Indeed, ignorance, po- 
verty, humiliation, disease and death have been the lot of the 
majority of men all over the world. 

Why Social Security. This war has shown, as no oth^r war 
in history, that victory can be the result only of the concentrated 
efforts, physical and intellectual of all classes of men in a com- 
munity. That is to say, war calls for sacrifices from all ele- 
ments of society -from nobles, from workers, even from women, 
whatever their share of happiness or misery in times of peace. 
It is the one great lesson of the total war that all the elements 
and individuals of the State are bound each to each for weal 
or woe. The contributions of labour to the common weal are 
now becoming emphatically manifest and call for a new deal 
and status for labour. It is good that statesmen of all nations 
have realised betimes that the post-war social planning should 
ensure better social justice to all ranks in the State, better than 
what they uptil now have enjoyed. It is to the securing of this 
objective to the people of England that the now famous Beve- 
ridge Plan sets itself; and the National Resources Planning Board 
and the Social Security Board's 7th Annual Report now before 
the Congress seek to answer a like necessity in the U. S. A. 
But England and America and many countries of Europe have 
already had some form of social security plans which have been 
worked with more or less efficiency. The problem before those 
countries is now to extend the benefits of social security already 
existing so that all individuals in the State, men, women and 
children, disabled and unemployed and all others requiring 
State help can be brought within the purview of the plan. 

But India has to begin from the beginning. She has no 
experience of the social security programme, such as the West 
has. But all the evil and hazards that are to be found in the 
social life of the Western nations exist in our country also. Old 
age dependence, maternity risks, unemployment hazards, sickness 



liabilities and such other wants said arises which lead to the 
disintegration of the home and hum&n personalities, reduce a 
nation's strength and affect its welfare are universal pro- 
blems; and each country has them in a more or less intense 
degree. Hence, it is no wonder if we too are obliged to face 
the problem of social security in any post-war reconstruction 
effort. Indeed, the planning of a new social order for India 
should be based on the dual principles of elimination of poverty 
among the masses, and insurance against all manner of risks 
for all those citizens that can be possibly brought under the 
scheme. Looked into closely the latter principle is only a 
method of tackling the national problem of poverty while the 
former is the objective to be achieved. 

A plea for Social Security for India is not based on the psy- 
chology of imitation, on the habit of doing what the other coun- 
tries in the West are doing. Though it is but natural to be 
stirred into similar ways of thinking and doing while all other 
countries are planning for the elimination of poverty among 
them, our plea is based on the full recognition of the pressing 
needs of our crores of men, women and children, who live from 
day to day in the paralysing fear of insecurity. Among the 
countries of the world India is known to be a rich country inha- 
bited by poor men. Though this looks like a derision and 
paradox it is nevertheless a poignant fact. The poverty of 
India is so self-evident that even a hurricane foreign tourist 
through any part of India can easily observe. Statistically 
computed the income per capita in India, according to Dr. V. K. 
R. V. Rao, was Rs. 65.4 during the year 1931-32. In other 
words, the average monthly earnings of an Indian amounted 
to a little more than Rs. 5/- in 1931. Considering the abject 
penury of the majority of Indians who hardly have a single 
square meal a day, it is very doubtful if they can ever be cre- 
dited with having the princely income of Rs. 5/- per mensem. 
Staring facts belie such statistical speculations. Moreover, in 
a country like India where there are tremendous differences in 
scales of income and a very few have what may be called 
income any average of income is bound to be false and 


tive, Thov^la the poverty of India is an appalling fact, it is not 
due to $ny single factor, economic, political, social or any other. 
As a, natter of fact, it is the cumulative effect of many contri- 
butory causes. Nevertheless, unemployment may be reckoned 
as one of the main factors causing wide-spread poverty in India. 

Extent of Unemployment. In the absence of statistical in- 
formation it is difficult to estimate the number of unemployed 
in India. Moreover, the artificial conditions created by the war 
have provided temporary employment to thousands of our men 
hitherto unemployed, thus submerging the problem of unem- 
ployment for the time being. But the fear is widely and justi- 
fiably entertained that as soon as the war ceases India will 
return to its former position of poverty and unemployment 
unless, indeed, she introduces in the not distant future a social 
security programme which shall include an effective unemploy- 
ment relief scheme. 

From the Tables given on page 140 we get an idea of the 
total number of earners and dependants and the general dis- 
tribution of occupations in India. 

Earners and Dependants in 1931 




Total Population 




Total Earners 




Total Working Depen- 





Total Non- Working De- 





It may be seen from Table I that non-working dependants 
are considerably more than the earners. Even if we exclude the 
total working dependants, who are a little more than one fourth 
the number of total earners, non-working dependants consti- 


tute much more than one half of the entire population of India 
a f very great strain indeed on the earners considering their slender 
income capacities. A glance at Table II will show that persons 

General Distribution of Occupations in 1931 

of animals and 


Industry (inclu- 
ding Textiles, 
Hides & skins, 
wood, building 

including post 
and telegraph 


Public Admin- 
istration & 
Liberal Arts 







occupied in services promising steady employment constitute 
a minute fraction of earners. Except a few public administra- 
tion services, like the army, the navy, the police and the State 
services and a few of the transport services, the rest of the occupa- 
tions provide no security of permanent employment. In occupa- 
tions involving the exploitation of animals and vegetation and 
minerals, in industry, in transport services and in trade, one is 
frequently faced with the problem of seasonal employment and 
sometimes with partial employment. Seasonal and partial 
employment are part of the unemployment problem ; and though 
they are not as disastrous in their consequences as total long- 
term unemployment, yet they are potent enough to degenerate 
the individual and the family. 

The Tragedy of Unemployment. Unemployment is one of 
the misfortunes most feared by wage-earners. "Non-employ- 
ment or loss of employment in nearly every wage-earner's career," 
declares L. W. Squire, " stands as spectre of forbidden mien, 
with a guant finger pointing the way to charity and old age 
dependency." The truth of this statement is seen in the fact 
that unemployment and irregular employment undermines the 
morale of the jobless. The discouragement, the feeling of help- 



lessness and uncertainty are ( most demoralizing. Enforced but 
intermittent idleness produces restlessness. Frequent and pro- 
longed unemployment destroys ambition and the sense of family 
responsibility, and brings about utter demoralization. 

The effect of unemployment on the worker and his family 
is disastrous. As Mr. A. Epstein points out, it frequently de- 
cides whether the worker shall drift from his skilled to any 
unskilled job ; whether his wife shall add to her duties that of 
supplementing her husband's wages, or whether the children shall 
be undernourished or enter prematurely some blind alley occupa- 
tion. Lack of work affects the industrious and thrifty workers 
as well as the indolent and irresponsible ones. It not only sweeps 
away the savings -accumulation of many years but destroys 
the habit of thrift. It is no wonder therefore if the worker, 
uncertain of the morrow, is encouraged to lead a hand-to-mouth 
existence. A crisis in this level of existence is likely to make 
him fall back on public charity for his support and that of his 
family. In other words, unemployment lessens income, reduces 
working efficiency, demoralizes the worker and his family, pro- 
duces industrial and political unrest, and a variety of social 
vices. Unemployment is, indeed, " a culture bed for pauper- 
ism and its accompanying eVils. v 

Why Don't They Save! If unemployment brings so much 
misery and suffering to the wage-earners and their families, why, 
some ask, don't they save ? The popular opinion is that any 
able-bodied man who wants to work can find work and that 
any one who is unemployed must be physically, mentally or 
morally inferior. Further, it is assumed that any person who 
is reasonably industrious and thrifty could lay aside enough 
money to provide against temporary bad times as sickness and 
old age. But is the prevailing wage rate high enough to meet 
his and his family's need for food, clothing and shelter, and 
then put by enough to cover days or periods of enforced idleness, 
as well as sickness and old age? The Table given below indi- 
cates the usual pre-war wage rates iti cities, towns and 
mofussils : 



Daily Wnges of Workers 









1-4-0 to 2-8-0 

1-0-0 to 2-4-0 

0-14-0 to 2-0-0 









Unskilled Women 
Workers ... 




The above wages are hardly enough to meet the needs of a 
working class family made up of the worker, his wife and two 

children. Because such wages are inadequate, it becomes neces- 
sary to make the wife and children work to supplement the 
family income. The industry which underpays its workers 
has no right to exist as it makes the wife and children labour 
to make both ends meet. It is indeed a cruel form of exploita- 
tion. But this is not the whole story. Industrial strife, which 
is so common an aspect of our modern industry, makes a further 
reduction in the family's monthly earnings. The following 
Table sets out the number of disputes each year since 1930, 
the number of persons affected by them and the number of 
working days lost. 


Industrial Disputes in India ^ 1930-B9 


Disputes j Workers affected (Working days lost 











































2,654,465 | 40,042,108 

These figures are significant : Within a period of ten years 
there occurred a total of 2,223 strikes and lock-outs involving 
a total of 2,654,465 employees. The time loss amounted to 
40,042,108 days. This means considerable financial loss to the 
workers affected. Industrial disputes, while generally helpful 
to elevate the worker's standard, frequently sap the little savings, 
if any, and drive him to the money lender or on the road to 
beg. Is it any wonder then if our workers, instead of having a 
bank account are heavily indebted ? " The majority of indus- 
trial workers," reports the Royal Commission on Labour, " are 
in debt for the greater part of their working lives. Many, indeed, 
are born in debt and it evokes both admiration and regret to 
find how commonly a son assumes responsibility for his father's 
debt an obligation which rests on religious and social but 
seldom on legal sanction. It is estimated that, in most indus- 
trial centres, the porportion of families or individuals who are 
in debt is not less than two-thirds of the whole. We believe that, 
in the majority of cases, the amount of debt exceeds three 
months' wages and is often in excess of this amount." 1 Similarly, 
in rural areas the problem of indebtedness is very serious and 
so also the problems of unemployment and poverty are very 
great. Under such circumstances is it possible for the poor wage- 

1 Report of the Royal Commission on Labour, 1981, p. 248. 


earner to save to protect himself and his family against any 
form of misfortune or crisis ? 

Unemployment Insurance. In view of the disastrous effects 
of unemployment, the inability ot tne worker to save and the 
amount of unemployment which normally exists in our country, 
it is necessary to devise ways and means 'of protecting the un- 
employed. For purposes of treatment we may classify the un- 
employed under different heads : (a) those who are temporarily 
unemployable ; (b) those who are temporarily unemployed but 
inefficient ; (c) those who are employable but more or less per- 
manently unemployed ; (d) those who are unemployable and 
permanently unemployed and (e) those who are permanently 
unemployed and unwilling to work. 

The causes which bring about these various classes of un- 
employed are many and diverse. Some of them are found in 
the very nature of our industrial organization itself such as fluc- 
tuation in the demand for labour and the labour policies of in- 
dustries. Some others are found in the individual himself such 
as mental and physical defect, lack of training, etc. Still others 
arise from social changes and natural disturbances. The methods 
we adopt for the solution of this problem must attack the root 
causes. To begin with, it is necessary to stabilise industry and 
dovetail seasonal industries. Then we need well organized em- 
ployment exchanges and they must work in co-operation with the 
best social service agencies. We must havevo cational training 
centres to train youth. Further, there should be correctional 
institutions to retrain the unemployable who are " workshy." 

But this is not all. For those who are involuntarily unem- 
ployed, we must provide unemployment insurance to prevent 
personal and family disorganization. The principle underlying 
unemployment insurance is not new. It is the same principle 
on which our joint family system is based, namely, that in times 
of crisis the burden of an individual member should not be borne 
by himself alone but should be shared by the other members 
of the family. Unemployment insurance really means that the 
burden now borne by workers who are involuntarily idle will be 
spread over a large part of society. Since enforced idleness is due 


not to personal causes but social, its burden should ba borne, not 
wholly by the man himself but by the employer and the State. 

Some of the industrial hazards may best be guarded against 
by means of unemployment insurance and sickness insurance 
schemes. In our country unemployment insurance, whether 
voluntary or compulsory, does not exist at all, while voluntary 
sickness insurance exists among a very few mills to provide bene- 
fits only to a handful of workers who contribute their shaie to 
the insurance fund. The industrially unemployed have no op- 
tion but to knock about till they find a job or, if they do not 
find one, to beg, borrow or steal. There are not even private 
charity organizations to provide the unemployed with means 
of livelihood. In America prior to 1929 the burden of provid- 
ing relief to the unemployed " was borne by private organiza- 
tions operating locally, and, in larger measure, by local public 
agencies." 1 State agencies supervised the dispensing of relief. 
But within a decade social insurance measures have progressed 
so much in America that during the six months ending June 
30, 1938, 2,500,000 workers out of a number of 27,500,000 who 
were covered by insurance, received benefits. 2 The credit of 
compulsory unemployment insurance goes to Switzerland which 
introduced it as early as 1904. But the experience of Great 
Britain in compulsory unemployment insurance is much greater ; 
though the system was introduced only in 1911, it has passed 
through several amendments during the succeeding years, cul- 
minating in the suggestions contained in the comprehensive 
Beveridge Plan. Italy, Austria and other European countries before 
the war had their schemes of compulsory unemployment insur- 
ance. One point worthy of note is that, though in most countries 
unemployment insurance experience dates back to only three 
decades, the scheme has been found to be extremely useful in 
preventing poverty and dependence. Hence, it has had pheno- 
menal extension in recent years. 

Unemployment insurance generally provides benefits to 
persons who have lost their livelihood. Under the Beveridge 

1 Millspaugh, A. ., Public Welfare Organisation, p. 808. 

2 See Stewart, M. S., Security or the Dole, p. 11. 



Plan an unemployed person gets removal and lodging grants. 
Unemployment benefit will continue as long as unemployment 
lasts, but is usually subject to a condition of attendance at a 
work or training centre after a certain period. This means the 
scheme contemplates not merely financial benefit but technical 
rehabilitation of the individual. The receipt of unemployment 
benefits is subject to the condition that the worker will have 
actually paid 26 contributions towards his insurance. 

Though compulsory unemployment insurance has worked 
well in other countries, there are great difficulties in the way 
of its introduction in India. One tremendous difficulty is the 
low income level of the Indian worker which we have already 
considered and which makes it impossible for him to put by 
for an emergency. Further, with money barely sufficient to 
feed himself and his family, the Indian worker cannot be ex- 
pected to contribute anything towards his unemployment in- 
surance. Perhaps the scheme of unemployment insurance may 
be tried among the skilled workers in cities. But skilled workers 
are only a few while semi-skilled and unskilled workers are legion. 
Also the skilled worker has more or less steady employment 
while the semi-skilled and the unskilled workers are the constant 
victims of unemployment hazards. It is wage-earners of this 
class who are most in need of insurance protection and j^et wholly 
incapable of joining contributory insurance. Since society 
is responsible for the present day economic organization which 
brings about involuntary unemployment, it is its duty to as- 
sume the burden of social protection of the poorest and most 
insecure of the population, and grant unemployment assurance 
not as charity but as a matter of right. 

Sickness l/m^ran^^, Sickness insurance in India, in so far 
as it affects the ^ health and means of living of the industrial 
worker, suffers from the same defects as unemployment insur- 
ance. But the incidence of sickness must be guarded against 
not only among the workers but among the nation as a whole. 
Sickness is a national problem, and underlying it is the ques- 
tion of nutrition and health of the entire community. It is 
frequently disease that disintegrates and dismembers the Indian 


family. While illness of the earning member paralyses 
sources pf income, illness of the members of the family drains 
and impoverishes the resources of the family. Sickness,' there- 
fore, my be characterized as one of the major causes of India's 
pauperization. Influenza, tuberculosis, small-pox, malaria, res- 
piratory diseases and a dozen other nameless ones take their 
heavy toll of victims annually. The incidence of death by 
disease in British India in 1986 and 1937 are given below : 

Deaths from Diseases in British India. 



1936 1987 




Small -pox 


Dysentery & Diarrhoea 

Respiratory Diseases 

Other causes ... 

Total ... 



The above Table shows that the largest number of deaths 
are due to " fevers " but unfortunately the separate figures 
relating to the individual diseases contained in the group are 
seldom given as the present system of registration makes this 
impossibe. Nevertheless, among fevers malaria continues to 
be the gravest menace to the wage-earners. Colonel Sinton, 
of the Indian Medical Service, pointed out not long ago that 
at least one hundred million individuals suffer yearly from 
malaria in British India alone, and of these only about a tenth 
receive treatment in hospitals- Major Bently, also of the 
Indian Medical Service, made a specialstudy of malaria inBengal. 
According to his estimate, some eighty thousand villages in the 


pitovince were stricken with malaria. He reckoned that some 
80 million people suffer from the disease in Bengal alone. It 
has been calculated that deaths from malaria during 1936 
amounted to 1,567,084 or about 44 per cent of total recorded 
* fever ' deaths. Malaria is more common in rural areas than 
in towns, though it is bad enough in the latter. 

Public health statistics in India seldom indicate the social 
importance of many of the widespread diseases among the poor. 
For example, typhoid fever is perhaps of even greater importance 
in relation to poverty in the sickness it causes than in the deaths 
resulting from it. For every death from typhoid fever, there 
are about eight cases of illness averaging 75 days of inability 
to work. Moreover, the conditions producing typhoid result 
also in other forms of sickness. Similarly, malaria by its fre- 
quent attacks, very materially affects the worker's earning capa- 
city, lowers his vitality and predisposes him to other causes of 
death. In fact, it causes more sickness and loss of working 
power than any other disease in India. Further, from sickness 
statistics referring to India it is not known how many earning 
members of families are affected, what are the number of work- 
ing hours lost (of industrial workers during sickness), what is 
the amount actually expended on medical care, and what is 
the total of wages lost due to absence from work during illness. 

During 1980-31 the Bombay Labour Office conducted an 
enquiry into sickness incidence among the cotton mill workers 
in Bombay City. Their results embodied in Table VI given 
below makes revealing reading. It shows, in a limited field of 
enquiry, that about 22% received no medical treatment at 
all, while about 40% of the sick resorted to country medicines. 
What type of country medicines was used is not known. But 
there is no doubt that the workers resorted to treatments of 
doubtful efficacy driven by the forbidding costs of proper medi- 
cal care. Of course, there is the element of superstition and 
ignorance which influence the Indians' preference of quack 
medicines and country remedies. Most often sick workers and 
their families content themselves with wearing charms supposed 
to be potent enough to drive away any disease or deformity be- 



longing to the body and the brain. But making allowance for 
superstitious ideas, it must be said that poverty is at the root 

Medical Treatment Received by Workers during Sickness 1 





Kind of Treatment 

no. of 

age to 

No. of 


No. of 








No Treatment 







Country Medicines 







Western Medicines 







Country and Western 








Patent Medicines ... 







Patent and Western 








Patent and Country 








Patent, Country and Wes- 

tern Medicines ... 






Other remedies including 

imperfectly specified . . . 







Total ... 







of the worker's medical preferences. It is not true to say, as 
is generally done, that Indians' denial of scientific medical care 
of themselves is based on natural antipathy towards Western 
methods of treatment. We can affirm from our experience 
that Indians are not slow to take advantage of modern medicine 
when it is made accessible to them. The question is not Indian 
or foreign medicine. Whichever is found to be effective must 
be recommended and administered to the sick. But the Indian 
worker has so far found the costs of medical care much beyond 
his means. Indeed, proper medical care is looked upon by the 
average Indian as a luxury! Perhaps, the only proper medi- 

1 Quoted by Keni, V. P., The Problem of Sickness Insurance, p. 85. 



cine which the poor Indian takes and that unconsciously 
is chlorine, when water is chlorinated at its source 1 

In recommending the provision of adequate medical faci- 
lities, the development of welfare schemes, and the construc- 
tion of working class houses, the Royal Commission on Labour 
persuadingly remarked : " There are few directions offering 
such great opportunity for profitable investment on the part 
of the State. The economic loss involved in the birth and rear- 
ing of great numbers of children who do not live to make any 
return to the community, in the sickness and disease which 
debilitate a large proportion of the workers and in early death, 
with the consequent reduction of the earning years is incalcul- 
able. Even a small step in the prevention of these ills would 
have an appreciable effect in increasing the wealth of India ; 
a courageous attack on them might produce a revolution in the 
standards of life and prosperity." 1 

It has been calculated that the average daily cost of medi- 
cine per indoor patient in the Maratha Tuberculosis Hospital 
Bombay, during the nine years from 1931-39 was Rs. 0-1-7. 
This is the lowest possible estimate. Based on this calculation, 
it is suggested that the worker should contribute his share com- 
pulsorily towards a sickness insurance fund, the employer should 
contribute double the amount the worker contributes and the 
State should pay towards the fund at least one fifth the sum of 
the worker's contribution. In other words, a tripartite con- 
tributory sickness insurance fund should be instituted and made 
compulsory in all industries. This is a very feasible suggestion. 
Though it is difficult to induce the worker to put by as. 5/- per 
month for his sickness insurance, it is not impossible. But 
will the employee come forward with his share of as. 10/- per 
month per worker ? And is the Government ready to pay 
towards the fund one anna per mensem per head? 2 

The whole problem of sickness incidence should be viewed 
as a national problem. Indeed, the health and vitality of the 
entire population should be the first concfern of the State, Dur- 

1 Report of the Royal Commission on Labour, 1081, p. 248. 

2 See Keni, V. P., The Problem of Sickness Insurance, p. 48. 


ing their illness, individuals, whether they are workers or non- 
workers, are burdens to themselves and to others. In view 
of the importance of health to national welfare, Health Insu- 
rance Societies in England and America have undertaken to 
give medical aid to whomsoever contributes on an insurance 
basis. Also groups of individuals in various localities unite 
for obtaining medical benefits for themselves and their families. 
For a specified annual fee the members of the group are entitled 
to get hospital care for a specified number of days. This system 
of obtaining medical benefit is well known as Group Hospita- 
lization. In America groups of people belonging to a region, 
sometimes whole villages, obtain medical service in this man- 
ner. There is now compulsory health insurance in the various 
countries of the world, including Japan. Generally, insurance 
is compulsory only for wage-earners and for employed persons 
receiving less than a specified income. 1 

In no other country in the world does health insurance 
apply to the entire population as in Soviet Russia. Soviet 
health insurance, says M. Stewart, is about as all-inclusive as 
it is possible to be. " All workers are included without excep- 
tion." There is no restriction ^because of income, and the right 
to obtain benefit commences after two months' employment. 
The law provides full wages for a worker during a leave of ab- 
sence because of illness, when quarantined by a contagious 
sickness of some one in his family, or while nursing a sick mem- 
ber of the family. There is no waiting period ; benefits begin 
on the day of sickness. " Full wages " does not, however, in- 
clude piece-work earnings, and is subject to a maximum of 
180 roubles a month. In addition to obtaining his wages, the 
patient is entitled to full 'medical care, including the service of 
specialists and surgeons. Free care in hospitals and sanato- 
ria is provided when needed, as are drugs, medicines and ap- 
pliances. This service is granted not only to the insured person, 
as in Great Britain, but to the entire family. Permanent and 
partial disability are provided for by a rather complex system 

1 Reed, I . S., Health Imuranct, p. 210. 


of pensions, which vary in accordance with need and the degree 
of the disability. 1 

Steps taken in the field of protection against sickness have 
been found to produce notable results. Summarizing the Ger- 
man experience of health insurance, Dr. Frieda Wunderlich adds : 
" Health insurance has protected the health of the German 
pfebple in a period in which starvation and misery threatened 
it With deterioration. It has survived all strains of the War 
and its aftermath and has been little affected by the depression. 
Specifically, it has lowered the death rate, sheltered pregnant 
mothers and infants, removed one of the largest causes for seek- 
ing poor relief, and raised relief standards. Through its mass 
records of illness it has contributed toward extending the scope 
of medical research and toward effective preventive measures, 
enabled the hospitals to modernize and increase their equip- 
ment, removed one of the principal handicaps in the professional 
paths of the young doctor, and has tended to make more uni- 
form the geographical distribution of medical facilities." 2 

While other countries have made so much progress, we are 
still far behind in this respect. The question of sickness insurance 
was brought to the notice of the Government of India in 1928 
by the recommendations of the International Labour Conference. 
In its reply to the Conference the Government stated that it was 
not feasible just then to introduce sickness insurance owing 
to the migratory character of labour, the worker's habit of re- 
turning to his village at times of illness, the lack of sufficient 
number of medical practitioners and the opposition of workers 
to compulsory deductions from their pay. Since the incidence 
of sickness among the working classes is very high, and the worker 
during periods of Illness finds himself destitute of resources, the 
Royal Commission suggested that all methods that may lead 
to the alleviation of the existing hardships should be explored. 
The tentative scheme formulated by the Commission separated 
the responsibility for the medical and financial benefits. The 

1 Steward, M., Social Security, (1087), p. 27. 

2 Wunderlich, Frieda, "What Health Insurance did for Germany." Social Secu- 
rity, 1086. (New York, American Association for Social Security, Inc.) 1986, pp. 189, 140. 



former, maintained the Commission, could be undertaken by 
Government on a non-contributory basis, the latter through 
the employers on the basis of contributions by themselves and 
by the workers. 1 

And this was some twelve years ago. Although . illness is 
the most common hazard to which every working class family 
is exposed, it is not yet covered by social insurance. The medical 
facilities are hopelessly inadequate, and the wages paid make 
it impossible for most workers to get through periods of crisis 
without borrowing, or making their wives and children work. 
The need for sickness insurance in our country is apparent. The 
difficulties ot putting through such a scheme are no doubt for- 
midable, but they do not absolve the Government of its respon- 
sibility of providing the worker relief during periods of pro- 
tracted illness. ' 

Workmen's Compensation. Let us now turn our attention 
to the tragic toll of the injuries and deaths resulting from accidents. 
The two major sources of accidents are our machine industry 
and the high speed transportation. Unfortunately, complete 
and accurate statistical information is woefully lacking; not that 
we do not have statistical bureaux but they are more concerned 
with material things than witlrhuman events. Hence, we know 
less about such an important matter as the number of accidental 
injuries suffered by our population and more about the quantity 
of cotton imported or peanuts exported ! 

We shall deal here only with industrial accidents. Even 
in this field our statistical information is fragmentary as only 
accidents which occur in industries which come under the Factories 
Act are recorded for purposes of compensation. In recognition 
of the hazards of industrial work the first step towards social 
security in India was taken with the introduction of the Work- 
men's Compensation Act in 1923. Its scope which was very 
limited has now been increasingly enlarged by numerous amend- 
ments to the Act from 1926 to 1939. The Act now provides 
coverage for occupational diseases also though such cases for 

1 Report of the Royal Commission on Labour in India, p. 268. 



compensation have been few with this requisition that the 
employee should have served more than months to claim the 
benefits falling under occupational diseases. The Workmen's 
Compensation Act includes only those with monthly income 
below Rs. 800/- and it is administered on provincial lines. The 
rate of compensation varies according to the nature and extent 
of the accident, the wage, and the majority or minority of the 

The Act was passed in July 1924. From that date to Decem- 
ber 1940 there were over 360,000 accidents for which compensa- 
tions were paid. Of these there were about 11,000 deaths, the 
rest being non-fatal cases. Industrial accidents always present 
an economic problem as they involve either a total loss of income 
or a loss of earning capacity. Industrial accidents differ 
from other groups of accidents in that they clioose a class as 
their victim the class of wage-earners who are least able to 
bear the burden. To the worker accident means death, mutila- 
tion, disfigurement, dismemberment, pain and suffering, expense 
of recovery and loss of earning capacity. 

Industrial injury is in a special way the result of modern 
civilization. It is closely connected with the factory and the 
machine. Many, if not all, of the hazards are a distinct con- 
sequence of this industrial system. But what does an industrial 
injury mean in terms of human values ? It may mean death 
at one extreme. It may mean nothing more than a slight wound 
at the other. But in between these two extremes it may mean 
a great many things. Let us briefly consider these various possibi- 
lities. 11,000 deaths mostly of men in their vigour of life from 
industrial accidents ! It means that many groups of families 
lost their bread-winner and several times that number of de- 
pendants were left without support. And then, 349,000 non- 
fatal accidents and these include temporary and permanent 
disablement. Temporary disability involves a period of enforced 
idleness ; there is the cost of recovery and the loss of wages. Fur- 
ther, the injury, the pain, the anxiety and the economic loss are 
considerable. This is so in the case of temporary disability. 
One can imagine how much more will be the loss and anxiety 



if the inability to resume one's normal occupation with the same 
efficiency as before is not temporary but permanent. In this 
group are thousands who remain alive but with injuries so serious 
that they are totally disabled for life. It includes thousands 
who lose an eye or both eyes, one leg or two legs, an arm or 
a hand* or one or more fingers. 

The wage- earners are workers with their hands and arms 
and feet and eyes. Deprived of these they become helpless 
and dependent and in many cases they suffer a considerable 
reduction in theif earning capacity, since their economic efficiency 
depends on their physical fitness. Not a few of those rendered 
blind, one-armed, one-legged, total cripples are forced to join 
the rank of beggars. Fatal accidents to wage-earners mean bro- 
ken families, dependent widows, neglected children and orphans, 
reduced standard of living, malnutrition and deteriorated health. 
In mechanised industry fatal accidents, they say, will happen. 
If this is the price we have to pay for our economic progress, is 
it not enough if we exact that price in human life ? Must we 
also exact the additional price of want and destitution from 
their wives, children and other dependants? Of course not. 
we say ; industry must bear the financial loss which is really no 
burden to it as the loss is shifted on to the consumers by adding 
it to the cost of production. 

Most of us then approve of compensation as a just and effi- 
cient method of handling the economic consequences of industrial 
accidents. But what is the basis of compensation and what is 
it in reality? Compensation may be (1) equal and uniform; 
(2) adjusted to need ; or (3) adjusted to loss, i.e., previous 
wages. The principle of equal and uniform benefits is rarely 
applied to accident compensation. And seldom are benefits 
adjusted to needs. The prevailing principle is the adjustment 
of benefits to wages, that is, an adjustment primarily to losses. 
The law in the literal sense of the word is a law of compensation 
and should mean full and not partial compensation. It should 
mean ** complete compensation for losses sustained ; for the cost 
of medical treatment and care, for the loss of wage for the dura- 
tion of disability ". But is it so in reality? The provision Telat- 


ing to the amounts of compensation of the Workmen's Compensa- 
tion Act as amended are given in the Table below : 

Rates of Compensation for Different Wage Classes 1 

Monthly wages of the 
workman injured 

Amount of compensation for 

Half monthly payment as 
compensation for temporary 
disablement of adult 

Death of 

total disable- 
ment of adult 





But not 

More than more than 




his monthly wages 



Rs. As. 




























8 8 










9 8 







45 t 



11 4 





12 8 










17 8 




















Whether our compensation system is good or imperfect can 
only be judged by the treatment it provides for serious accidents 
involving grave economic consequences cases of permanent 

1 Schedule IV to the Act. 



total disablement. What a gruesome story of suffering, despair 
and economic distress each one of such cases represents ! The 
totally blinded, the armless, the legless, the worker with a broken 
back ! Hopelessly handicapped through accident ! If the worker 
before his permanent disablement received a monthly wage 
of Rs. 10/-, he will be entitled to a compensation of Rs. 700/- 
which represents his 70 months' or little less than six years* 
wages. What isheto do afterthis period? Is itright on the part 
of industry to make him shift for himself, to become a dependant 
or a street beggar for the rest of his life? Are not those who 
belong to the group of totally and permanently disabled entitled 
to life benefits? The significant features of partial disability 
is that it does not altogether destroy but only reduces the earning 
capacity. As the loss expresses itself in reduction of wages, 
compensation must be based upon the amount of that reduction 
for the duration of that disability, that is, till death. So long as 
the entire loss is not covered but only a specific portion of it, 
it cannot be considered satisfactory. It will only create a large 
body of cripples and semi-cripples dependent on public charity 
for the rest of their lives and also reduce thousands of families 
to a very low standard of living. 

And now the fatal accidents. The amount of compensation 
payable in the case of the injured workman when monthly wage 
is not more than Rs. 10/- is Rs. 500/- for death. If he is a single 
man without dependants then the economic loss is not serious. 
At the other extreme is the married man with a wife, several 
small children and other dependants to support. Our Compen- 
sation Act provides only for a uniform treatment without differen- 
tiating the needs of the two cases which is obviously unjust. 
Compensation should be adjusted according to the need of the 
dependants. Our Act provides only a lump sum death benefit 
equal to about four years' wages. The amount if paid out all 
at once looms large in the eyes of the disconsolate widow. But 
how much security does it offer for the duration of her widowhood 
and the children's minority? 

Judged by these standards, we must admit that our compen- 
sation system is inadequate and imperfect. Nevertheless, it 



indicates that we have accepted the principle, of compensation 
which is economically sound and ethically just. But we have 
yet to achieve the standards of a good compensation law. Millions 
are still uncovered by the Act. Its scope, therefore, has to be 
extended and payment should be ajdusted to needs. To the 
employer the additional cost of compensation insurance is not 
a serious expense ; to the consumer it only means a small increase 
in the price of goods but to the wage earner compensation means 
much more. It is protection against misery, suffering and want. 
Security against hazards of work conditions is the inalienable 
right of the wage-earner, and it is the duty of society to provide 
him and his family protection against poverty and pauperism 
resulting from industrial accidents. 

The Aged Poor. While medical science is striving to pro- 
long man's life, the machine industry is reducing his period of 
usefulness. Though the phrase "old at forty " may be an exag- 
gerated statement of the problem, it has been found from ex- 
perience in running an employment bureau that a man over forty 
is at a disadvantage in securing employment in industry and th&t 
opportunities of finding a job are few for a man of fifty. Even 
while men are in employment it is not an uncommon practice in 
some establishments to weed them out as soon as they show 
signs of slowing down. When then, one may ask, is a man old ? 
In answer to this question we must say that the real .test is the 
test of fitness to carry on his job. It is not merely a question 
of being young or old, but of being too young or too old for this, 
that or the other type of work. Pragmatic standards of efficiency 
are the criteria applied to test a person's fitness. Ordinarily, 
physical energy begins to decline much before physical health, and 
mental powers begin to deteriorate at a more advanced age. 
Naturally therefore in primitive civilization, when physical 
effort was essential, brawn was of more importance in the eco- 
nomic usefulness of a man th$n his brain. But in an agricultural 
civilization like ours, custodians of long experience and sound 
judgment play an important part in transmitting the accumulat- 
ed knowledge from one age to another. Hence, the mental 
rather than the physical attitudes of old age determine its social 


status. Reverence for age has thus become the foundation of 
all social relationships in our rural civilization and has given 
old men and women not only an important role but also protection 
in the joint family system. 

But unfortunately science is proving detrimental to the 
security of old age in our country in more ways than one. It is 
responsible for speeding up the methods of production. The 
introduction of modern industry with its private wage contract 
is disintegrating our rural economy. While the family unit 
is the centre of agriculture, the individual is the centre of a wage 
contract. Industrial employment presupposes a definite amount 
of working capacity and ability to keep up with the speed of the 
machine. A wage contract, therefore, has to be entered into under 
competitive conditions where the aged are placed at a disadvantage 
in competing with younger and stronger men. Then again, 
practically all modern tendencies, even those which are supposed 
to be initiated in his own welfare, work against the older employee. 
The increasing standard of efficiency, the elimination of skill 
and experience, workmen's compensation laws etc., all tend to 
discourage the hiring of older workers. The basic requirements 
of speed and alertness of modern industry necessitate the casting 
aside of older workers as so much industrial scrap-heap. Can 
we blame the old worker if he bemoans the fact that the prolonga- 
tion of life without proportionately increasing the period of useful- 
ness only results in increasing the years of drudgery and 
destitution ? Is it any wonder then if old age under these 
inevitable conditions of modern industry becomes a serious 
economic and social problem? 

Further, science is now laying the basis for an urban civiliza- 
tion in India. In doing so it is disintegrating the joint family 
system which serves even now in rural areas the purpose of an 
old age pension. The joint family has through the ages- cared 
for the aged and such responsibility is the most natural solution 
of the problem. But modern industrial conditions not only dis- 
integrate this system but make it impossible for children and 
jelatiyes to afford the expenses involved in caring for their aged 
parents owing to low wages and higher costs of living in industrial 


Cities. Hiven at that, many reduce their requirements and those 
of their children to the barest minimum possible in order to fcare 
for their old parents. Though such filial affection and the sense 
of duty are admirable, one wonders if it is just that the little 
children have their rights sacrificed in the interests of their aged 
grandparents. The case of the old person who has no relatives 
upon whom to depend is even more pitiable. 

Out of a population of about 400,000,000 there are approxi- 
mately 80,000,000 persons of 60 years and over in India. In 
other words, it means that for every 1 ,000 of the population there 
are about 14 persons who are 60 years old or more, some of whom 
are protected by pensions, personal savings, income from property 
or by relations. It is only those who are not covered thus that 
ajre in need of State protection^ as the possibilities of self-support 
for them ar6 infinitely less now than in a pre-machine era. Thou- 
sands of the aged who are reduced to destitution and beggary 
are persons who had borne their share of the world's work for 
thirty or forty years and made their humble contribution to the 
creation of wealth. Is it fair to let these veterans of toil to seek, 
at the eve of their life, charity for food and the pavements to 
rest their weary head? 

Old Age Assistance. How then is this problem to be solved ? 
We are aware that, while in some instances personal depravity 
is responsible for misery and dependency, the major causes of 
old age dependency lie in our institutions, in our changing social 
and economic order. Low wages, unemployment, strikes and 
lockouts, business failures and industrial superannuation are 
more potent causes than idleness or thriftlessness which are not 
infrequently the effects of the former maladjustments. In view 
of the seriousness of the problem and the untold misery it caiises, 
many of the countries have adopted measures for its solution 
or mitigation, and we can well learn from their valuable experience. 

Of the great powers of the worl$, it was Germany which gave 
the lead in providing protection to the aged. It was in 1889 
that the German plan of compulsory insurance was enacted and 
naturally, therefore, it is the oldest plan in operation. Under 
this system insurance is compulsory for manual workers and others 


The social worker and his problem 

Ever Present 


earning upto 7,200 marks (about Rs. 5,500} a year. And now 
forty-two nations provide security of some kind or other for the 
aged. It is interesting to note that old-age insurance has de* 
finitely passed through the stage of voluntary protection and is 
now compulsory in practically all civilized countries. Within 
the last ten years old-age security from being the concern of 
labour and social welfare organisations has become one of .the 
major issues in the United States of America. Old age assistance 
legislation, starting with Arizona as far back as 1914, has gone 
on spreading rapidly. In 1936, the Federal Government extended 
co-operation to States in financing old-age assistance. By 
September 19fe8 all the American States qualified themselves for 
Federal Aid by adopting old-age assistance scheme. 1 

Thus practically all the progressive countries of the world 
have adopted measures to protect the aged from a life of misery 
and pauperism. But we in India have not yet become aware 
of the gravity of the problem. Certain amount of protection in 
old age is no doubt provided in some establishments. Govern- 
ment servants are covered by old-age pensions. Most munici- 
palities and public utility services and a few public concerns have 
adopted provident fund benefits some of which are contributory 
and others non-contributory. In 1941 the Government of Bombay 
made subscription to the Government Provident Fund corn* 
pulsory for all its servants. All railway employees and the 
employees of local and public bodies and a few* of the larger 
public companies give gratuities to their employees on retirement. 
But for industrial labour outside of Government industrial 
establishments, pensions on retirement are almost non-existent. 
Some concerns, of course, do give small pensions to old or faithful 
workers but these are mostly ex gratia and cannot be claimed as 
of right. Thus we see that thousands of workers arfe hot covered 
by any form of old age assistance ; destitution and beggary is the 
inevitable lot of many of them, though it is not known how ma,py 
beggars are recruited from this class. Their number must, 
indeed, be considerable. ' 

1 Roseman, Alvin : " Old-Age Assistance " in the Anna'* of the Ameriotin Academy 
of Political and Social Science, March 1930. 


Old age dependency is with us and it has come to stay since 
it is largely a result of our industrial development. From what 
has already been said it must be cleat that a grave social problem 
does exist and will probably remain as serious for many years 
to come unless we adopt a radical social policy as early as possible. 
Otherwise, the difficulties to be faced in old age will multiply 
with the increasing industrialization of India. This problem 
can be met by instituting old-age pensions for the aged poor by 
the State. The system should be non-contributory and appli- 
cable to all wage-earners who are sixty and over. Old-age benefits 
should cover at least the bare minimum of physical needs, though 
one would prefer a slightly generous grant to enable the aged 
to live under more desirable conditions than were possible during 
their years of toil. It may be better to pay benefits in kind rather 
than in cash. Homes should also be provided under proper 
-supervision for those who have no one to care for them. India 
is second to no othei* country in the world in her veneration for 
the aged . Yet thousands of old people in our country drag on 
a .miserable existence uncared for and unprotected poor old 
folk, " as full of grief as age, wretched in both ". If India's 
^charitable sentiments and resources, together with the State 
t^omtributions, are harnessed, this major problem of old age 
dependency can be easily solved. 

Neglected and Dependent Mothers and Children.-~-1hz problem 
of dependent mothers and children is not new. w llere again 
the joint family system provides a more or less satisfactory 
degree of security as the burden of support usually is not in- 
tolerable if the families are large enough to distribute the load. 
Only in our urban areas where the shift is from an agricultural 
to an industrial society is the need to provide protection against 
the premature death of the family bread-winner has become 
much greater. It is not an easy task for the widowed mother 
of the working class to support hfcr dependent children. To 
make matters worse, the burden of widowhood falls withblighten- 
ing effect on the Indian woman who, more than any other woman 
in the world, is subjected to all kinds of social taboos. In most 



cases widows in India have to endure untold miseries as they are 
seldom trained for economic independence. 

According to the 1931 Census, the total number of widows 
was 25,496,660. Now there must be a greater number as the 
population has increased much since then. This large number 
includes all sorts of widows rich $md poor, young and old, 
pretty and ugly, with children and without children, with jobs 
and without jobs. The rich widows and those who can remarry 
do not usually become social problems. Even where remarriage 
is permissible, the chances of an elderly widower to enter a new 
marriage are considerably better than those of a widow of the 
same age. Then again, a widower with children is more likely 
to want to marry again but a widow with children has a lesser 
chance to remarry whether she wants to or not. Then there 
are several orthodox communities where remarriage is not allowed 
for a widow. It is the group of widows without financial pro- 
tection but with childredVwhich gives rise to a serious problem. 

Turning for statistical information to the Census Report 
of 1981, we find that widows in the population per 1,000, leaving 
out widows below twenty, were 78 in the age group 20-80; 212 
in the age group 80-40 ; 507 in the age group 40-60 ; 802 aged 
60 and over. The last group naturally comes under old-age 
dependency. Widowhood between the ages of 80 and 50 the 
period when children are dependent constitutes the real econo- 
mic problem arising from the loss of the bread-winner, particularly 
of the wage-earning class. The economic problem of widowhood, 
therefore, assumes its most depressing form when complicated 
by not only low financial status but also the presence of minor 
children. The widowed mother must then either seek employ- 
ment herself or send her children to work early in life, thus 
denying them the opportunities for development and growth. 
In either case the children must suffer. 

Tp support themselves and their little ones, widowed mothers 
take up work in factories, enter domestic service or become coolie 
women. Thus they are away for nine hours or more and return 
home at sunset where the burden of household duties awaits them. 
This means the strain of double employment ; naturally after 



a heavy day's work, they have little energy or interest left to 
care for their little children or attend to household duties. During 
their absence from home, children are left to play on the streets, 
or to be cared for by old relatives or indifferent neighbours. Is 
it any wonder if the delinquency rate among children of wage- 
earning mothers is found t^ be high ? If children are too young 
it is not uncommon for working mothers to administer opium 
to make them inactive during the day. An investigation under- 
taken by the Government of Bombay not long ago revealed the 
fact that 98% of the infants born to working women in Bombay 
had opium given to them. Thousands of widowed mothers 
are thus obliged to neglect their children in order to support them. 
In these and other ways the outside employment of widows 
with little children does have serious effects upon themselves 
and their children. Thus we have in the wage-earning widowed 
mother a dual responsibility, the social consequences of which 
are most undesirable and destructive. 

Little children are the citizens of tomorrow and the mother 
renders a service to the State in properly caring for them. The 
natural home of the child is most important for its growth and 
development. Hence, the White House Conference declared : 
" Home life is the highest and finest product of civilization. 
It is the great moulding force of mind and of character. Children 
should not be deprived of it except for urgent and compelling 
reasons. Children of reasonable, efficient and deserving mothers, 
who are without the support of the normal bread-winner, should, 
as a rule, be kept with -their parents, such aid being given as may 
be necessary to maintain suitable homes for the rearing of the 
children." Since most of our middle-aged widows possess no 
special skill, their earning capacity is limited. Hence, complete 
maintenance oFsuch dependent families seems to be the only 
possible way of meeting the problem. 

The problem of dependent mothers has given rise to what 
is known as " Mothers' Pension " movement in the progressive 
countries of the West. France, Germany, Denmark, New 
Zealand and America and some other have adopted the pension 
system. Many of the American States have provided for not 


only financial aid but service to the mother in helping her to use 
the aid properly and in solving the problems which arise in the 
bringing up of her children. Since dependency of mothers and 
children arises not only from widowhood but also from desertion, 
illegitimacy, divorce, imprisonment and the mental and physical 
incapacity of the fathers, such mothers are also given aid. In 
our country no such help is available. It is imperative to provide 
for such pension to prevent mothers with children of the 
working class drifting from partial support into beggary and 

The neglect of children is bad enough in the fatherless 
family where the mother has to work for their support but neglect 
becomes even greater when children are motherless, as widowed 
fathers grow irresponsible owing to outside interests. It is from 
such broken families that the vagrant, the derelict and the de- 
linquent are largely recruited. Since the family is the cradle of 
humanity and the nursefcy of civilization, and the good mother 
its presiding deity, is it not the duty of the State to protect the 
mother from hazards and thus safeguard the family from catas- 
trophe ? 

Maternal mortality deprives a large number of children 
of the mother's love and protection, and leaves them to shift for 
themselves when they are too young to do so. Therefore, among 
deaths from preventable causes, the most disastrous, as far as 
the child is concerned, is maternal mortality. Though accurate 
data are not available, it is estimated that about 25 mothers die 
to every 1,000 children born. In other words, since some 10 
million babies were born in the year 1986, about 250,000 mothers, 
or a quarter of a million of the mothers, must have lost their 
lives in giving birth to them. And many more of those 
who survived child-birth must have been either weakened 
or maimed in some way. Furthermore, the number of 
deaths in themselves do not indicate the seriousness of 
the consequences to the family, particularly to the children. 
To them the mother's death or illness at this critical stage means 
dependency and neglect. According to the Report of the Public 
Health Commissioner, there were in 1937 some 99,000 deaths 


from cholera, a little over 54,000 deaths from small-pox and about 
28*000 from plague. But maternal mortality is greater than 
deaths from any of these. In view of this fact does it not seem 
strange that our efforts to protect motherhood should be so 
insignificant compared to the sums spent on the campaign against 
cholera, small-pox and plague? 

To prevent maternal and infant mortality arid to give 
protection to motherhood, several countries have introduced 
maternity insurance. But in India the need for such protection 
is much greater because of the universality of marriage, low wages, 
extreme poverty and the high rate of maternal mortality. Un- 
fortunately, even now there is no all-India legislation to give 
protection to working women in childbirth. This matter is still 
considered as a provincial subject. However, we have to be 
thankful that some of the provincial governments have passed 
legislation providing for maternity benefits. The first provincial 
legislative measure was the Bombay Maternity Benefits Act 
of 1929 and this was followed by the passing of a similar Act 
in the Central Provinces in 1981. These were the first Acts of 
their kind in India. Since then the Provinces of Madras, Bengal, 
Sind, Assam, the United Provinces, Ajmer-Merwara and 
Delhi have also passed maternity benefit legislation. It is 
interesting to note that the Bengal Legislature passed a 
second Act known as the Bengal Maternity Benefit (Tea 
Estates) Act, 1941 for women employed in tea plantations. 
In the same year the Mines Maternity Benefits Act was 
passed by the Central Legislature. Among Indian States 
Mysore, Baroda and Cochin provide maternity benefits. 
In view of the pressing need and the appalling suffering and 
poverty of our working women, it is heart-rending to think that 
out of the large* group of women workers in the whole of India 
only a small proportion enjoys maternity benefits. However* 
we have to be thankful that at least this much has been done in 
the way of a beginning. 

In spite of these measures, a large number of women do not 
enjoy their benefits because of their ignorance and economic 
helplessness, and because of the unscrupulousness of some em- 



ployers. We need therefore a vigilant public opinion to compel 
the provincial governments to enforce proper observance of these 
measures. It is encouraging to note that some organizations 
and industries have set up maternity benefits voluntarily* 
The Bombay Municipality, for example, started a maternity 
benefit scheme for its halalkhore and scavenging women in 1928. 
By this scheme the classes benefited are given leave on full pay 
for a period not exceeding 42 consecutives days. In Assam 
voluntary maternity benefit schemes have been adopted by almost 
every tea estate of repute. Planters in Madras decided early 
in 1939 to pay a bonus and bear charges in connection with 
the free feeding of the mother for periods of three weeks each 
before entry into and after leaving hospital. So also many 
of the jute mills have adopted a maternity benefit scheme. 

The double purpose of Maternity Benefit is to provide the 
extra money needed for medical care before and after child-birth 
and a compulsory periq^l of rest to the mother before and 
after delivery without any loss in income. Since the general 
standard of living of the working class family is so low, the rates 
of maternal and infant mortality so high, the poverty of the people 
so great and the medical facilities so inadequate, there can be 
little doubt that some form of maternity benefit would be of 
great value to the health of the woman worker and her child at 
a most critical period in the lives of both. Now that the principle 
of maternity benefit has been accepted, every effort must be 
made to extend it throughout India by legislation, and to encour- 
age other employers who do not come under the law to adopt it 
voluntarily to meet both the needs of the working woman and the 
social purpose of protecting the life and health of both mother 
and child. If the extension of the system is accompanied by 
adequate public health service, it will, no doubt, contribute 
much towards the reduction of mortality of mothers and depend- 
ency and neglect of children. 

Probkm of the Physically Handicapped. Though the extent 
of the problem of physically handicapped is not as great as of 
sickness, yet its seriousness is seen in the tendency of the crippled, 
the blind, the deaf and the dumb to take to begging because of 



our natural sympathy for them. It is not to be wondered, there- 
fore, if a good part of the beggar population is made up of them. 
In most of the countries of the West the problem of dependence 
arising from infirmity and affliction is met by invalidity insurance. 
This is done in some twenty-one countries. In Great Britain, 
the Irish Free State and Northern Ireland, invalidity is covered 
by health insurance. 

In our country there is great indifference with regard to 
this problem. No doubt, the State provides a few institutions 
for the deaf-mutes of whom there are some 150,000 and for the 
blind of whom there are about 600,000 in our population. These 
institutions are supplemented by a few private ones. But 
the existing provisions are very meagre indeed. In the absence 
of any scheme to care for the thousands of physically handicapped, 
vagrancy and beggar legislation has been found to be practically 
useless to conibat the issue. There is a great need, therefore, 
to devise a carefully thought-out relief system of caring for 
these unfortunates the physically handicapped. 

Reviewing the problem of India's pauperism and dependency 
we find that it is mainly due to the cultural stagnation and the 
social drift of the people and the adoption of Western indus- 
trialism. Old institutions are broken and thrown into disuse 
without new ones being built in accordance with Indian 
thought and life. Western industrialism has come to us 
with its slums, low-incomes, accidents, occupational diseases, 
uncertainty of employment and super-annuation. The decay 
of agricultural occupations, of home and subsidiary indus- 
tries, has further accentuated the problem of poverty 
and dependency. Decency, health, mutual aid, security, have 1 
all been overwhelmed and lost in the whirlpool of competi- 
tion. The family is splintered like glass on the rock 
of economic insufficiency. Irresponsibility and desertion are 
creating the criminal and the beggar. The legislators are in- 
active, paralyzed by the immensity of our social problems. 
In the meanwhile all these gathering sub-social currents are 
disturbing the placidity of Indian life. 

Under these circumstances we can ill-afford to lag behind 



in providing social security for the less fortunate in our country 
but we cannot stop there. Social security is only a half-way 
house. We have to strike at the root cause of our social problems 
the economic system. The present war has made it clear 
beyond a shadow of doubt that there is something radically 
wrong in our economic order. The same causes which bring 
about the unspeakable poverty and misery of the masses are 
also responsible for the large scale massacre of human beings and 
the irrecoverable destruction of property that is going on today. 
While our immediate task is to provide security for the poor against 
hazards, our main concern should be to bring about a new social 
order which will ensure not only the creation of wealth but even 
more its better distribution, thus eliminating poverty and usher- 
ing in peace and goodwill among men. 



Approximate Personnel and Expenditure of the (I) Shelter, (2) Industrial 
Home, (8) Infirmary and Asylum and (4) Work House or Penitentiary. It is 
difficult to give an exact idea of the personnel of a new institution and the 
expenditure that may have to be incurred on its maintenance, and the dif- 
ficulty of even an approximate guess increases when the institution con- 
templated is of a complex nature with an indefinite number of inmates, 
some of whom may remain in the institution for an indefinite period, while 
others may be able to do productive work and earn a part of their keep. 
We shall not, therefore, attempt any exact estimate of figures for the recurring 
and non-recurring expenditure shown against each item or institution ; the 
figures are given so that t||e Committee working on the execution of such 
a Scheme may have a rough idea of the liabilities that would be involved. 

Salary p.m. 

I. (A) Personnel and Estimate of Expen- Rs. 

diture for the Shelter. 

(1) Supervisor- 1 ... 10tt-5-150-10~200+'C.A.Rs.25 

~fFree Quarters (or Rent of 
Rs. 50 p.m.). 

(2) Part-time Medical Attendant ... 50 

(3) Clerk-typist (at least a Matriculate) 55-4-115-5-140 

(4) (a) Cook (with board & lodging) ... 30-1-40 
(6) One or two Cook's mates or as- 
sistants according to the num- 
ber of inmates (with free board, 

quarters and clothing) ... 10-J-20 each. 

(After some experience of the 

working of the Shelter, they 

may be chosen from among the 


(5) Peon (with free quarters and cloth- 
ing. May be chosen from among 

the inmates) ... 25-|-3O. 

(6) 2 Watchmen (Day and Night) with 

free quarters and clothing ... 28-J-35 each. 

1 Preferably a married man so that his wife may be helpful with regard to the female 
side of the Shelter. Payment of some remuneration may be allowed to her. He may be 
a qualified person from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bombay. If the 
Shelter is in its own building, the Supervisor may be provided with suitable quartern. 
If not, he may be provided with the actual amount of rent or Rs. 50 as House Rent Allo- 
wance whichever be less. If the Shelter can be located at the King George V Infirmary 
and Lady Dhunbai Home, slightly modified arrangements for personnel will have to be sug- 



(7) 2 Sweepers (with free quarters, cloth- 
ing and board. May be chosen from 

among the inmates) l ... 10-J-20 each 

(8) 3 Arresting Agents ... 40 each -f clothing. 


Over and above these expenses of personnel, there will be other recurring 
and non-recurring expenses at the Shelter. The figures may be taken as 
approximate : 

Non-recurring Recurring 
initial expenditure Annual 

Rs. Rs. 

(1) Rent of the Building at Rs. 150-200 

p.m. (if one has to be hired) 1 ,800-2,400 

(2) Food for the inmates at Rs. 15/- p.m. 
per person at the present time and 
Rs. 8/- p.m. per person in normal 
times. Counting an average daily 
attendance of 30 inmates Rs. 300 

to 600 p.m. 2,880-5,400. 

(26) Clothing for the inmates 500-at 
Rs. 12 per person shirt, shorts and 
forage or other cap for men ; Sari, 
skirt, blouse for women <,000 

(3) Clothing for the peon, 2 watchmen, 
2 cook's mates (2 coats, 2 pairs of 
pants or trousers, buttons, 1 forage 
cap, each p.a., and 1 belt and 1 
puttee extra every 2 years to each 

watchman and to 3 Arresting Agents) 275 

(4) Stationery 200 

(5) Photographic records (1,200 persons 

p.a.) ... 000 

(6) Sundries like Telephone (Govt. to be 
requested to provide free), Electri- 
city, etc. 500 

(7) Furniture for Office and Dormitories ") 

(8) Utensils for cooking and serving ... }> 2,000. 

(9) Chattais, Mattresses, a few cots forj 
the sick, etc. 

Provident Fund for the employees 

about 416-060. 

2,000. 12,971-16,835. 

Add Salaries at Us. 541-785 p.m 6,492- 9,420. 

Total annual expenditure for the 

Shelter ... 19,463-25,755. 

(B) Contribution for about 50 inmates to the King George V Memorial 
Infirmary. @ 0-10-0 to 0*12-0 per day per person. Rs. 14,000 

1 Free quarters will have to be given to all the employees if the Industrial Home in 
situate outside the City. 

* Dearneas allowance will have to be paid to most of the regular salaried staff for the 
duration of the war and some time after. 



II. Personnel and approximate expenditure for the Industrial Home. 
The following personnel is suggested for the Home : 

( 1 ) Guardian Superintendent 

(2) Assistant Guardian Superintendent 
(preferably a Graduate of the Tata 
Institute Same as Shelter Su- 
pervisor May be employed a little 
after the number of inmates begins 
to increase) 







Textile teacher 

Stenographer-clerk (at least a 

Clerk-typist (at least a Matriculate. 
May be employed later when inmates 
increase. One of these must know 
First Aid) 

Accounts and Stores Clerk 
Store -keeper (may be employed later 
when the number of inmates in- 

Part-time Medical Attendant Rs. 75 

Honorary Psychiatrisli... Honorarium 
Assistant Psychiatrist 
3 Wards or Guards (Both for super- 
vision and bringing persons from the 
Shelter to the Industrial Home) ... 

30O-45-450-20-500 p.m. -f 50 
C.A. (F.Q.) 

100~5-150-l()~200-f20 C.A. 

, < F - 



55^-1 15-5-im 



50-100 (i.e.,(*00-200~l,200p.a.) 

30-J-35 each (F.Q. & Clothing 
at Rs. 25 p. a. each). 
25-4-30 each do. 

28-|-35 each do. 

35-1-45 (F.Q. and Board). 

2 Peons 

2 Watchmen (Day and Night) 

1 Cook for first 50 persons,.and more 
to be employed gradually as num- 
bers increase 

(for 100 to 150 inmates, 2) 1 

(for 160 to 225 inmates, 3) ... ^-30-1-40 each (F.Q. and Board). 

(for 250 and over 4) J 

(Some may be trained from among 

the inmates in which case a lower 

scale of salary may be paid) 

2 Cook's mates or assistants upto 
100 persons 

(3 cook's mates upto 110 to ISO'] 


(4 cook's mates upto 160 to 200 


(5 cook's mates upto 210 to 300 


(may be chosen mostly from among 

the inmates) 

15-2-20 each (F.Q., Board and 

each (FQ., Board and 

1 May be even a retired official with some administrative experience. A married 
man may be preferred so that the wife can help on the female side of the work on payment 
of some remuneration. 



(16) 1 Bearer to teach the work of a 
** Bearer to suitable inmates 

(17) 5 Sweepers (may be chosen from 
among the inmates) 

(18) 1 Barber 

(19) 1 Mistry or Carpenter 

(20) 5Dhobies 

(21 ) 2 Mails (others to learn and assist on 
small remuneration) 

Total Rs, ... 

2 @ 15-J-20 each 

3 10-J-20 



2 30 each. 

1 @ 25 each. 

2 (j 15 each, (from among the 


25-f-35 each (F.Q. and Clothing) 

1,661-2,680 p.m. or 
19,932-32,160 p.a. 






Other Recurring Expenditure Approximate annual 

Expenditure Rs. 

Food for the inmates at the rate of Rs. 20 per 
person now and Rs. 10 per person in normal times, 
beginning with 50 and ultimately catering for 300 
persons. (Slightly higher cost as the inmates will 
be doing manual labour and transport charges will 
have to be added). Now for 50 to 300 inmates 
per day. ... 12,000-72,000. 

(Normally for 50 to 300 inmates per 
day 6,000-36,000) l 

Clothing for about 700 persons @ Rs. 12 per 
person p.a. ... 8,400. 

Taxes, water charges, etc. 

Clothing for 15 to 20 employees @ Rs. 25 per 
person p.a. ... 375-500. 

Stationery ... 600. 

Sundries like Telephone (Govt. to be requested 
to instal free), lighting, phenyle or disinfectants, 
etc. ... 600. 

Medicines, etc. ... 300. 

Provision for Provident Fund Contribution ... 1,466-2,435. 
Raw Materials (Cotton, yarn, seeds, etc). 

Non-Recurring Expenditure 

Total ... 23,741-84,835. 

Expenditure Rs. 

(1) Structures : I would suggest that the per capita 
expenditure for living accommodation should be 
kept within Rs. 50 to 100. The same standard or 
less may be kept for the industrial sheds for 300 
persons. (To be erected, of course, gradually as 

1 As against these expenses of maintenance of the able-bodied inmates, there will 
be some income accruing from their work at the Home or earnings from outside as soon as 
they are employed on productive work after training. This may be roughly estimated at 
least at about Rs. 80,000 p.a. 



need arises, though the planning may be done with 
a view to provide for 800 inmates and land may be 
reserved for further expansion as found necessary). 
(Each Chembur Shed has cost about Rs. 700 
and can accommodate from 60 to 75 inmates, 
the per capita cost being Rs. 10 to 12) ... 30,000~-60,OQO. 

(2) Furniture, utensils, chattais, mattresses, cots,, 
medical accessories, Accident or First Aid Kit, 
etc. (Rs. 1,000 for 50, Rs. 6,000 for 300) 

(3) Industrial equipment for 50 to 300 persons 
<4) Quarters for 7 officers and clerks 

(5) Quarters for 15 to 20 inferior staff 

Total Recurring Annual Expenditure Rs. . . . 
and Non-Recurring Expenditure for the 
Industrial Home . . . Rs. . . . 







Ml. Personnel and approximate expenditure of the Asylum and Infirmary. 

The expenses are roughly estimated as follows : 




<1) Housing 1 for the aged and infirm @ 

Rs. 100 per person foV 300 persons 

in the initial stages (to be provided 

by stages for 50 or 100 at a time) ... 30,000. 
(2) Feeding @ Rs. 15 per person now 

and Rs. 8 per person in normal times 28,800-54,000. 

<3) Clothing @ Rs. 20 per person per 

annum 6,000. 

(4-) Medicines, etc. @ Re. 1 per person 

per month on an average ... 3,600. 

Additional Personnel for the Asylum and Infirmary 

(5) (a) Medical Attendant same as for 

Industrial Home, Rs.75-100p.m. 900-1,200. 

(6) 1 Matron @ Rs. 100-10-200 p.m. 

+ Rs. 15 p.m. Uniform Allowance 1,380-2,580. 

(c) 2 Nurses @ Rs. 50-5-100 p.m. 

-{- Rs. 10 p.m. Uniform Allowance 1 ,440-2,640. 

(6) Attendants, Ayahs, Ward Boys, 
Sweepers to be drafted from among 
the able-bodied inmates of the In- 
dustrial Home already provided for. 
If extra Rs. 5 p.m. is given them 

for about 30 such employees 1 ,800. 

(7) 1 Barber @ 80-1-40 p.m. 360-480. 

(8) 2 Dhobies @ Rs. 30 each p.m. ... 720. 

(9) 2 Compounders @ Rs. 40-2-60 + 960-1,440. 


1 I would propose a cheaper structure with a brick wall about 4 feet high from the 
ground, topped with bamboo matting wall upto the roof, a plinth of 1} ft< height, a Shahbad 
stone-paved flooring, asbestos sheet roofling and ordinary cots and mattresses to sleep on. 
To start with, the sheds at the Chembur Evacuation Camp will also serve the purpose. 



( 10) Provision for Provident Fund 370-620. 

(11) Quarters for Matron and Nurses . . , 7,000 ...... 

Total Rs. ... 87,000 46,380-75,080. 

(The same supervisory, clerical and 
culinary staff as of the Industrial 
Home will suffice for this Asylum and 
Infirmary also at least for a year or 

IV. Personnel and approximate expenditure of tfte Work-Home or 

The expenses are roughly estimated as follows : 




Non -recurring Recurring 

Rs. Rs. 

Quartern for about 20 to 25 inmates 
to start with and provision to be 
kept for about 50 according to in- 
creasing need @ Rs. 100 per person 2,500-5,000. 
Feeding ' (25) @ Rs. 10 p.m. (Will 

come in after about 2 years) 3,000. 

Clothing (25) @ Rs. 20 p.a. 500. 

Medicines, lighting, sundries, etc 500. 

Warden 75-5-125 p.m. Free Quarters 3,000. 900-1,500. 

2 Guards 30-i~-40 p.m. each, Free 

Quarters ... 00. 720-960. 

Provision for Provident Fund 18&-205. 

Total Rs. 




Further possibilities of employment of the able-bodied at Chern- 
bur. Dairying and Agri-Horticultural industries. We have stat- 
ed in paragraph that it would be somewhat difficult and hazard- 
ous at the commencement of our Scheme to try to found agri- 
horticultural colonies in outlying, undeveloped parts of the pro- 
vince with a highly handicapped population such as of beggars. 
However, if the Industrial Home for rehabilitating beggars is 
located at the Evacuation Camp at Chembur, after a year or 
two, there will be very good possibilities of starting DAIRYING 
help of the able-bodied healthy inmates. 

1 These persons should be able to produce some portion of their own food mid cloth- 
ing by working on the farm, dairy or -weaving looms. 



There is a large tract of land adjoining the Camp and suf- 
ficient land therefrom can be made available to ferect 1 to 5 
stables accommodating 200 buffaloes each with the necessary 
washing places, troughs, milking sheds, store-room for fodder 
and shed for hay, dung receptacles, sheds for calves and quar- 
ters for milkmen, herdsmen, sweepers and others. There is an 
excellent market for milk in the City within easy reach of Chem- 
bur and fresh milk can be despatched in vans to the City twice 
a day. There being fairly large grazing areas in the neighbour- 
hood on the island itself, the dry buffaloes need not bfe sent out 
and new buffaloes in lactation bought every year, as the buffaloes 
can be covered by good stud bulls kept for the purpose at the 
Dairy Farm itself, thus rendering the production of milk ; at a 
cheaper rate possible. Water, which will be required in large 
quantities, can be had from more wells dug for the purpose as 
well as from the tappings of the Tulsi and Vihar Mains. 

Vegetables can be |frown in the same adjoining land 
and cow-dung cake manure easily available on the Dairy Farm 
will be very useful for intensive cultivation. Further plots 
of land of fairly good fertility are available as for instance 
with the Bombay Municipality at Deonar and a por- 
tion of this can be used both for growing cereal crops 
and vegetables, in which case the Municipal Scheme of 
supplying sewage effluent from the Dadar Purification 
Works to agriculturists at Chembur can be expedited 
and may prove very useful to the Home as well as profitable 
to the Municipality. Fairly extensive grasslands are also to 
be found on the island hills and flats and in the neighbouring 
district and they can serve both as pastures and fodder supply 
areas. Green fodder can also be raised for the buffaloes on the 
farms. The milk can find a ready market in Government and 
Municipal 'Hospitals, Maternity Homes and other institutions, 
and one feels the produce of 1,000 milch cattle will not be dif- 
ficult to dispose of. 

For every stable of 200 cattle about 80 persons of in- 
ferior cadre can be easily employed as milkmen, attendants, 
herdsmen, sweepers, cleaners, labourers and other such staff, 



whereas drivers dairymen, supervising staff and some milk-mei 
at first may have to be engaged from outside. 

Approximate Expenditure. The initial cost of livestock, 
sheds, store-room, utensils, van or truck, etc., for a unit of 20(1 
milch cattle will be approximately Rs. 30,000, the salaries of the 
experts and supervisory staff may come to about Rs. 500 p.m. 
and the cost of fodder to about Rs, 4,500, to 6,000 p.m., where- 
as the wages of inferior labour staff will vary from Rs. 450 to 
750 p.m. according as a smaller or larger number of the inmates 
of the Industrial Home is employed for the purpose. Details 
of the personnel required and the estimates of expenditure can 
be obtained when required. One very important point, how- 
ever, about the dairy industry is that while there is a certain 
amount of risk in case the cattle catch some infectious disease, 
there is the possibility of income from the very moment the in- 
dustry is started and fair prospects of profit if it is run well, be- 
cause of the very good market for milk provided by the City. 
The Dairy will further help in slightly increasing the milk supply 
of the City which is so notoriously deficient and dear. Five 
stables of 200 cattle, each started one after another as experience 
is gained, will, besides, engage about 150 to 200 of the inmates 
in dairying alone in due course, whereas the ancillary agri-hor- 
ticultural operations may absorb an equal number of men and 
women in course of time. Both these are, moreover, primary 
producing industries dependent on each other and staple indus- 
tries of the country at that. From the prospects of employ- 
ment elsewhere of the workers in similar institutions, they will 
afford excellent training grounds at the Industrial Home for the 
inmates. The inmates may further be able to produce some of 
the primary necessaries of life for their own use. The Indus- 
trial Home or what may become an Agrivo-lndustrial Colony 
will thus come to be founded in due course on a fairly solid 
foundation of key industries for its existence on what may 
become and should at least be aimed at as a self -supporting basis 
with regard to the production of food, dothing and shelter. 


Cost of a systematic and scientific handling of a social malady 
cheaper than its relief by unorganised charity. Ii* the 
history of the attempt to solve the Beggar Problem in 
the City of Bombay as well as in other places in India, the bogey 
of numbers and cost has always frightened the protagonists of 
anti-beggar legislation. We shall show by a few facts and figures 
given below that a systematic and scientific handling of the 
problem of beggary is not as costly as it is usually imagined in 
the absence of reliable data and is certainly almost always less 
costly in the long run to society at large than the amount of 
money antl effort involved and almost wasted through de- 
sultory, scattered and unorganised charity. This is no place to 
enter upon a long dissertation on the subject. We will there- 
fore content ourselves with a few facts and figures. 

The first important .point to remember in this connection 
is that all beggars are not so by force of circumstances or helpless 
destitution. Almost half or more than half in every group 
of beggars may be so by choice. It pays them better to beg 
than to live by honest work for, sometimes, honest work in our 
present social structure is not as remunerative as begging. 
Secondly, a fair number amongst the professional beggars consists 
of able-bodied men, women and children. Thirdly, some of the 
defective, disabled and diseased beggars are traded in by relatives, 
who can afford to support them. Fourthly, the wives or women 
and children of a goodly number of male bread-earners take to 
the profession of begging because they have no established homes, 
have plenty of leisure and can add to the family income by easy 
money. A number of peasants and landless labourers seem to 
migrate to the city during the off season presumably in search 
of work but end up by taking to begging in streets. There are 
a few amongst the beggars who are casually employed and an- 
other few,, who, while fully employed, take to begging during 
iiesure hours and on Sundays and holidays, beeause they have 
found by experience that they can earn a few extra rupees with- 
out much ado by trading on their wits. These different classes 



taking to begging in a vast arid crowded city through different 
motives, form a substantially large portion of its beggar popu- 
lation. As soon as legislation for the prevention of beggary is 
introduced in a certain area and its provisions strictly enforced, 
these classes of beggars almost vanish in no time. This has 
been the experience in various cities in India and outside where 
the experiment has been tried, sometimes leaving an incredibly 
low figure of the destitute to be admitted to the home, asylum 
or work-house established for the purpose. 

Bearing the above in mind, Jet us now take the numbers 
of secular beggars in the city of Bombay at 5,000 and that on 
an average the numerous charity trusts, appropriate institutions 
and the philanthropic general public spend annas 8 per day 
per person, though several beggars in various cities of India 
have been known to earn from annas 12 to Rs. 3 and 5 per day, 
when their day is luckier or their beggar bowl fuller. On this 
modest scale of Rs. 15 per month per person, the pious gentry 
of Bombay may be spending on the 5,000 beggars a princely 
sum of Rs. 9 lacs per annum. 

Let us on a conservative estimate put the figures of the 
various types of beggars described above, who will make them- 
selves scarce on the introduction and enforcement of beggar 
legislation, at 50% in which case about 1,000 able-bodied and 
1,500 defective and disabled may be left in the city for us to tackle, 
though 2,500 is rather a high estimate. At the rates of main- 
tenance prevailing in various similar domiciliary institutions 
in the city and the mofussil at present as well as before the war, 
we may have to spend on an average Rs. 10 p.m. per person on 
the 1,000 able-bodied and Rs. 15 p.m. on the 1,500 infirm and 
defective. The^cost on the 2,500 would amount to Rs. 82,500 
p.m. or about Rs. 4 lacs per annum, which is certainly much 
less than Rs. 9 lacs spent aimlessly by indiscriminate charity 
with all the evil consequences of idling, malingering, spreading 
of disease, nuisance to the general populace, bad example to 
the children, etc* Calculating this cost of Rs. 4 lacs per annum 
on about 5 lacs of bread-winners in the city with a population 



of about 15 lacs, the cost of a systematic and scientific handl- 
ing of this grave social malady would come to As. 12 or Be. 1 
per annum. , 

Taking the pppulation of 61,000 beggars in the Province 
of Bombay with a total Population of about 2 crores and suppos- 
ing As. 4 or 8 per day per person were spent by charity endow- 
ments and other philanthropic public to maintain them, the 
cost to the commuiiity would amount to Rs. 54 or 108 lac* a 
year on their haphazard, wasteful and almost fruitless main- 
tenance. If we take half of these or 30,000 to be rehabilitated 
on a systematic basis and there are 15,000 ablebodied and 15,000 
handicappel beggars, at the rate of Rs. 10/- p.m. per person 
for the able-bodied and Rs. 15 p.m. for the handicapped, the 
annual expenditure would amount to about Rs. (18 4-27=) 
45 lacs per annum and society would reap the benefits that ac- 
crue from a systematic and scientific solution of the problem. 
If this expense were spread over 50 lacs of bread-winners or 
families in the province, the per family cost would come to 
As. 14 to Re, 1 per annum, not to mention the fact that a very 
large number of superior and inferior staff would be employed 
usefully and gainfully in the useful work of rehabilitating a 
large number of the handicapped and demoralised section of the 
body politic. 

Taking the beggar population of India of about 14 lacs as 
per the census of 1931, the cost to the country at As. 4 or 8 per 
day per person would amount toRs. 12 or 25 J crores per annum ; 
whereas on our usual calculations as bove, the maintenance of 
3^ lacs of able-bodied and 3| lacs of defective and disabled per- 
sons at Rs. 10 and 15 p.m. per person respectively would cost 
the country (4.20+6.30)=1&. 10| crores. Taking about 8 
crores of bread-winners out of a population of 33-J crores, the 
incidence of cost per family would come to Re. 1-4-0 per annum 
and about 70,000 persons would be gainfully employed as super- 
ior and inferior supervisory and welfare staff on an average 
salary of more than Rs. 40/- per month, getting Rs. 8j crores 
per annum in wages, which may also solve a part of our problem 
of educated unemployment. 



isesiaes, a majority 01 me aoie-Doaiea oeggars may be able 
to earn their keep after a training of 8 to 6 months or a year 
in an appropriate institution. We have not calculated the 
earnings of such persons through skilled or unskilled labour 
while calculating the above expenditure, and even some of the 
handicapped population may be able to do some productive 
work and contribute towards their maintenance. What is even 
more important from a long-range view of social health 
and amelioration is that the insane, feeble-minded, those suffer- 
ing from commuhicable or hereditary diseases and a large num- 
ber of such other physically undesirable may be prevented from 
multiplying their kihd and increasing their share of burden on 

Further, towards the above expenditure on institutional 
relief to the beggars, several existing Trusts, Endowments, and 
Domiciliary Institutions will be able to contribute their quota 
and the cost to the public and to the State treasury will not be 
so large. In fact in the Province of Bombay, there were in 
1920 about 349 1 such institutions sheltering and feeding about 
4,035 beggars per day at a cost of Rs. 3,95,801 per annum, where- 
as in the City of Bombay, the few known special charity endow- 
ments for the specific purpose were feeding about 300 persons 
per day at an annual expenditure of Rs. 27,834^. 

1 The list is incomplete. 

2 See Sethna Committee Report, Appendix 5, p. 43. 






Bengal Vagrancy Act 1943 
PART III Acts of the Bengal Legislature. 


No. 986-L. 23rd October, 1943. The following Act of 
the Bengal Legislature, having been assented to in His Majesty's 
name by the Governor, i thereby published for general informa- 
tion : 

Chapter I 


1 Short title, extent and commencement. 

Vagrancy Advisory Board. 

Appointment of Controller of Vagrancy and his assistants. 

Special Magistrates. 

Chapter II 

(i. Power to Require apparent vagrant to appear before Special Magistrate. 

7. Summary inquiry in respect of apparent vagrant and declaration of 

person to be a vagrant by Special Magistrate. 

K. Detention in receiving centre and medical examination of vagrant. 

0. Procedure for sending vagrant to vagrants' home. 

10. Externment of vagrant from area in which Act is in force. 

11. Validity of custody and detention of vagrant. 

Chapter III 


12. Provision of receiving centres. 
Itf . Provision of vagrants' homes. 

14. Search of vagrants. 

15. Management and discipline. 

1C, Transfer of vagrants from one vagrants' home to another. 



17. Outside employment to be obtained for vagrants when possible. 

18. Discharge of vagrants from vagrants 1 home. 

Chapter IV 


10. Punishment for employing or causing person to ask for alms. 

20. Punishment for refusing to goT>efore Ik Special Magistrate. 

21. Punishment for refusing to submit to medical examination at receiving 


22. Punishment for escape from receiving centre or vagrants* home. 

23. Procedure at end of imprisonment. 

24. Prosecution and jurisdiction to try offenders. 

25. Persons to be deemed public servants. 

26. Indemnity. 

27. Repeal. 

28. Power to make rules. 

29. Continuance of action taken under Bengal Ordinance II of 1943. 

The Bengal Vagrancy Act, 1943 

(Passed by tlie Bengal Lagislature) 

[Assent of the Governor was first published in the Calcutta Gazette 
Extraordinary of the 25th October 1943.] 

An Act to provide for dealing with vagrancy in Bengal. 

WHEREAS it is expedient to make provision for dealing with 
vagrancy in Bengal ; 

It is hereby enacted as follows : 


1. Short title, extent and commencement: (1) This Act may 
be called the Bengal Vagrancy Act, 1948. 

(2) It extends to the whole of Bengal. 

(3) It shall come into force in Calcutta at once and in such 
other areas on such other dates as the Provincial Government 
may, by notification in the Official Gazette^ direct. 

2. Definitions : In this Act, unless there is anything 
repugnant in the subject or context, 

(1) "Board" means the Vagrancy Advisory Board estab- 
lished under sub-section (1) of section 3 ; 



(2) "Calcutta" means the town of Calcutta as defined in 
section 3 of the Calcutta Police Act, 1866. Ben. Act IV 
of 1866, tdgether with the suburbs of Calcutta as de- 
fined by notification under section 1 of the Calcutta 
Suburban Police Act, 1866 Ben. Act It of 1866 ; 

(8) " child " means a, person under the age of fourteen 
years ; 

(4) " Controller " means the Controller of Vagrancy appoint- 
ed under sub-section (1) of section 4 ; 

(5) ''person of European extraction " has the same 
meaning as in the European Vagrancy Act, 1874 

JX of 1874; 

(6) " prescribed " means prescribed by rules made under 
this Act ; 

(7) " receiving centre " means a house or institution for 
the reception and temporary detention of vagrants, 
provided by thV Provincial Government or certified 
as such under sub-section (1) of section 12; 

(8) " Special Magistrate " means a Magistrate empowered 
to act as such under section 5 ; 

(9) "vagrant" means a person not being of European 
extraction found asking for alms in any public place, 
or wandering about or remaining in any public place in 
such condition or manner as makes it likely that such 
person exists by asking for alms but does not include 
a person collecting money or asking for food or gift 
for a prescribed purpose; 

(10) " vagrants' home " means an institution provided by 
the Provincial Government under sub-section (1) of 
section 13 for the permanent detention of vagrants. 
3. Vagrancy Advisory Board: (1) The Provincial Govern- 
ment as soon as possible after the commencement of this Act 
shall establish a Board to be called the Vagrancy Advisory Board. 

(2) The Board shall be 

constituted in the manner prescribed, subject to the condition 
that the number of the members of the Board shall not be 
less than ten. 



(8) The function of the Board shall be 

to advise the Provincial Government on all matters relating 
to the control of vagrancy and in particular on the adminis- 
tration of this Act and for the aforementioned purposes any 
member of the Board may enter and inspect at any time any 
receiving centre or vagrants' home. 

(4) The Board may, with the previous 

approval of the Provincial Government, make regulations to 
provide for, 

(a) the times and places at which its meetings shall be 

held ; 

(6) the issue of notices concerning such meetings ; and 
(c) the conduct of business thereat. 

4. Appointment of Controller of Vagrancy and his assistants: 

(1) For carrying out the purposes of 

this Act the Provincial Government may appoint a person to 
be Controller of Vagrancy together with such other persons to 
assist him as it thinks fit. 

(2) Persons appointed under sub-section 

(1) shall exercise such powers as may be conferred and perform 
such functions as may be required by or under this Act. 

5. Special Magistrates : For the purposes of Chapter II 
of this Act the Provincial Government may empower any Pre- 
sidency Magistrate in Calcutta and any Magistrate of the first 
class elsewhere to act as a Special Magistrate. 


6. Power to require apparent vagrant to appear before Special 
Magistrate : Any police officer authorised in this behalf by the 
Commissioner of Police in Calcutta and by the District Magis- 
trate elsewhere may require any person who is apparently a 
vagrant to accompany him or any other police officer to, and to 
appear before, a Special Magistrate. 

7. Summary inquiry in respect of apparent vagrant and 
declaration of person to be a vagrant by Special Magistrate : 



(1) When a person is brought before a Special Magistrate 
under section 6, such Special Magistrate shall make a summary 
inquiry in the prescribed manner into the circumstances 
and character of such person, and if, after hearing anything 
which such person may wish to say he is satisfied that 
such person is a vagrant, he shall record a declaration to this 
effect and the provisions of this Act relating to vagrants shall 
thereupon apply to such peron. 

(2) If on making the summary inquiry referred to in sub- 
section (1) the Special Magistrate is not satisfied that the person 
brought before him under section 6 is a vagrant such person 
shall forthwith be released. 

(3) A Special Magistrate recording a declaration under 
sub-section (1) that a person is a vagrant shall forthwith send 
a certified copy of such declaration to the Controller, and to the 
offieer-in-charge of the receiving centre to which such vagrant 
is sent under sub-sectiofe (!) of section 8. 

8. Detention in receiving centre and medical examination 
of vagrant: (1) When a person has been declared to be a vagrant 
under sub-section (1) of section 7 he shall forthwith be sent in 
the manner prescribed to the nearest receiving centre and there 
handed over to the custody of the office r-in-charge of such re- 
ceiving centre, and such vagrant shall be detained in such re- 
ceiving centre until he is sent therefrom to a vagrants' home 
under sub-section (1) of section 9. 

(2) As soon as possible after the commencement of the 
detention of a vagrant in a receiving centre the medical officer 
of such receiving centre shall with suc'h medical help as may 
be necessary medically examine the vagrant in the manner 
prescribed as quickly as is consistent with the circumstances 
of the case and shall thereupon furnish the offlcer-in-charge 
of the receiving centre with a medical report regarding the health 
and bodily condition of the vagrant. 

(8) The medical report referred to in sub-section (2) shall 
state inter alia, 

(a) the sex and age of the vagrant ; 

(6) whether the vagrant is a leper ; 



(?) flpom what, if any, communicable diseases other than 
leprosy the vagrant is suffering; 

(d) whether the vagrant is insane or mentally deficient ; 

(e) what is the general state of health and bodily condition 
of the vagrant and for which, if any, of the prescribed 
types of work he is fit. 

9. Procedure for sending vagrant to vagrants 1 home: 

(1) On receipt of the medical report referred to in sub- 
section (2) of section 8 the officer-in-charge of a receiving cen- 
tre shall, as soon as the necessary arrangements can be made, 
send the vagrant in the prescribed manner to such vagrants' home 
as the Controller may by general or special order in this behalf 
direct, and the said officer-in-charge shall along with such vagrant 
send to the Manager of the said vagrants' home, 

(a) the certified copy of the declaration made under sub- 
section (1) of section 7 relating to such vagrant which 
is to be sent to such officer-in-charge under sub-section 
(8) of the said section, and 

(b) the said medical report. 

(2) When a vagrant is sent to a vagrants' home under 
the provisions of sub-section (1) he shall be handed over to the 
custody of the Manager of such vagrants' home and shall be de- 
tained therein, or in a vagrants' home to which he may be trans- 
ferred under section 16, until duly discharged therefrom under 
section 18. 

(3) In issuing any order under sub-section (1) the Con- 
troller shall ensure that the following classes of vagrants, 

(a) lepers, 

(b) the insane or mentally deficient, 

(0) those suffering from communicable diseases other than 

(d) children, 

are segregated from each other and from vagrants who do not 
belong to any of the aforementioned classes and shall also ensure 
that the male vagrants are segregated from the female vagrants : 



Provided that the provisions of this sub-section in respect 
of children may be relaxed as prescribed. 

10. Eotternment of vagrant from area in which the Act is 
in force : (1) If after an inquiry made under sub-section (1) 
of section 7 the Special Magistrate is satisfied that the person 
brought before him under section 6 is a vagrant but, in the course 
of such inquiry, it has appeared that the vagrant was not born 
in the area in which this Act is in force or has not been conti- 
nuously resident therein for more than one year, the Special 
Magistrate, after making such further inquiry, if any, as he may 
deem necessary, may by order in writing direct the said vagrant 
to leave the said area within such time and by such route or 
routes as k&ay be stated in the order and not to return thereto 
without the permission in writing of the Controller, and in such 
case, notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1) 
of section 7, the provisions of sections 8 and 9 shall not apply 
to such vagrant : ^ 

Provided that if the Special Magistrate deems it necessary 
to make any further inquiry as aforesaid in respect of such vagrant, 
the vagrant shall be detained pending conclusion of the said 
inquiry in such receiving centre as the Controller may by general 
or special order in this behalf direct and for this purpose shall be 
sent thereto in the manner -prescribed and there handed over 
to the custody of the officer-in-charge of such receiving centre, 
and shall, while he is so detained, be subject to the rules of manage- 
ment and discipline referred to in sub-section (1) of section 15. 

(2) The Controller shall not give the permission referred 
to in sub-section (1) unless, if the vagrant had been detained 
in a vagrants' home, such vagrant would have been eligible 
to have been discharged therefrom under the provisions of sub* 
section (1) of section 18. 

(3) When a vagrant against whom an order has been made 
under sub-section (1) fails to comply with such order within the 
time specified therein, or after complying with the said order 
returns without the permission in writing of the Controller to 
any place within the area referred to in the said order, such 
vagrant may be arrested without a warrant by any police officer 



and shall be liable, on conviction before a Magistrate, to be 
punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may 
extend to six months. 

11. Validity of custody and detention of vagrant : A declara- 
tion that a person is a vagrant recorded by a Special Magistrate 
under sub-section (1) of section 7 shall be sufficient authority 
to any person to retain such vagrant in his custody when such 
person is under the provisions of this Act or of any rule made 
thereunder conveying a vagrant from the Court of a Special 
Magistrate to a receiving centre or, from a receiving centre to 
a vagrants' home or from one vagrants' home to another and to 
the officer-in-charge of a receiving centre and to the Manager of 
a vagrants' home for detaining such vagrant in accordance with 
the provisions of this Act in a receiving centre of vagrants' home, 
as the case may be. 

Receiving centres and vagrants 9 home 

12. Provision of receiving centres : (1) The Provincial 
Government may provide and maintain together with the neces- 
sary furniture and establishment one or more receiving centres 
at such place or places as it thinks fit, or may certify by noti- 
fication in the Official Gazette any existing charitable or other 
institution, subject to the prior consent of the controlling autho- 
rity of such institution and on such conditions as may be mutually 
agreed upon between the Provincial Government and the said 
authority, to be a receiving centre for the purposes of this Act. 

(2) For the purposes 

of this Act every receiving centre shall be under the immediate 
control of an officer-in-charge who shall be appointed by the 
Provincial Government and who shall perform his functions 
subject to the orders of the Controller* 

(8) The Provincial 

Government shall also appoint for 1 every Deceiving centre one or 
more suitably qualified persons as medical officers, 

IS, Provision of vagrants' homes : (I) The Provincial Gov- 
ernment may provide and maintain together with the necessary 



furniture, equipment and establishment, one or more vagrants' 
homes at such place or places as it thinks fit and such vagrants' 
homes may include provision for the teaching of agricultural, 
industrial or other pursuits and for the general education and 
medical care of the inmates. 

(2) Every such vagrants' 

home shall be under the immediate charge of a Manager who 
shall be appointed by the Provincial Government and who shall 
perform his functions subject to the orders of the Controller. 

(3) The Provincial Go- 
vernment may appoint in respect of a vagrants' home a suit- 
ably qualified person as medical officer and one or more suitably 
qualified persons as teachers. 

14. Search of vagrants : Every officer-in-charge of a re- 
ceiving centre or Manager of a vagrants' home may order that 
any vagrant detained in s^ch receiving centre or vagrants' home 
shall be searched and that the personal effects of such vagrant 
shall be inspected and any money then found with or on the vagrant 
shall be applied in the manner prescribed towards the welfare 
of vagrants and any of such effects other than money may be 
sold in auction and the proceeds of the sale shall be applied as 
aforesaid : 

Provided that a female vagrant shall be searched by a female 
only and with due regard to decency. 

15. Management and discipline : (1) Vagrants detained 
in receiving centres or vagrants 5 homes under this Act shall be 
subject to such rules of management and discipline as may from 
time to time be prescribed. 

Explanation. Discipline includes the enforcement of the doing of manual 
or other work by a vagrant. 

(2) If any vagrant wilfully disobeys or neglects to comply 
with any rule referred to in sub-section (1) he shall on conviction 
before a Magistrate be liable to be punishad with rigorous im- 
prisonment for a term which may extend to three months. 

(8) The Provincial Government may authorise the Manager 
of a vagrants' home to punish any vagrant detained in such 
vagrants' home who wilfully disobeys or neglects to comply 



with any rule referred to in sub-section (1) with hard labour of 
the type prescribed for any period not exceeding seven days ; 
and such punishment may be in lieu of or in addition to any 
punishment to which the vagrant may be liable under sub- 
section (2). . 

16. Transfer of vagrants from one vagrants' home to another : 
The Controller may by order in writing direct the transfer of 
a vagrant from one vagrants' home to another and a vagrant 
in respect of whom such an order is passed shall thereupon be 
sent in the manner prescribed to, and handed over to the custody 
of, the Manager of the vagrants' home to which he has by such 
order been transferred. 

17. Outside employment to be obtained for vagrants when 
possible : The Manager of a vagrants' home shall use his best 
endeavours to obtain outside the vagrants' home suitable em- 
ployment for vagrants detained therein. 

18. Discharge of vagrants from vagrants^ home : (1) A 
vagrant may be discharged from a vagrants' home under orders 
of the Controller, 

(a) on the Manager of such vagrants' home certifying in 
the prescribed manner that satisfactory employment 
has been obtained for such vagrant ; 

(b) on its being shown to the satisfaction of the Controller 
that such vagrant has become possessed of an income 
sufficient to enable him to support himself without 
resorting to vagrancy ; 

(c) on a relative of such vagrant, or a person who the Con- 
troller is satisfied is interested in the welfare of such 
vagrant, entering into a bond with or without sureties 
for a sum prescribed, to look after and maintain such 
vagrant and to prevent him from resorting to vagrancy ; 

(d) for other good and sufficient reasons to be recorded by 
the Controller in writing. 

(2) When the employment referred to in clause (a) of sub- 
section (1) has been obtained for a vagrant, any such vagrant 
refusing or neglecting to avail himself thereof shall be liable 


to be punished on conviction before a Magistrate, with rigorous 
imprisonment for a term which may extend to one month. 

Penalties and Miscellaneous 

19. Punishment for employing or causing persons to ask 
for alms : Whoever employs or causes any person to ask for 

alms, or abets the employment or the causing of a person to 
ask for alms, or whoever, having the custody, charge, or care 
of a child, connives at or encourages the employment or the 
causing of a child to ask for alms shall be liable to be punished 
on conviction before a Magistrate with rigorous imprisonment 
for a terra which may extend to two years or with fine or with 

20. Punishment for wtfusing to go before a Special Magistrate : 
Any person refusing or failing to accompany a police officer to, 
or to appear before a Special Magistrate, when required by 
such officer under section 6 to do so, may be arrested without 
warrant, and shall be liable to be punished on conviction before 
a Magistrate with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may 
extend to one month or with fine, or with both. 

21. Punishment for refusing to submit to medical examina- 
tion at receiving centre : Any vagrant who refuses to submit to 
a medical examination by the medical officer of a receiving centre 
or by any person assisting such medical officer under the pro- 
visions of sub-section (2) of section 8 shall be liable to be punished 
on conviction before a Magistrate with rigorous imprisonment 
for a term which may extend to one month. 

22. Punishment for escape from receiving centre or vagrants' 
Iwme : Any vagrant who escapes from any custody to which 
he has been committed under this Act or any rule made there- 
under or who leaves a receiving centre without the permission 
of the officer-in-charge thereof, or who leaves a vagrants' home 
without the permission of the Manager thereof, or who, having 
with the permission of such officer-in-charge or. Manager, as 
the case may be, left a receiving centre or a vagrants' home for 



a time specified under any rule referred to in sub-section (1) 
of section 15, wilfully fails to return on the expiration of such 
time, may be arrested without warrant and shall for every such 
offence, be liable to be punished, on conviction before a Magis- 
trate with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend 
to six months. 

23. Procedure at end of imprisonment : Every person im- 
prisoned under the provisions of sub-section (2) of section 15. 
sub-section (2) of section 18, section 20, section 21 or section 22 
shall at the end of his term of imprisonment be brought under 
police custody before the nearest Special Magistrate who shall 
forthwith deal with such person in the manner laid down in 
sections 7, 8 and 9 as if such person had been brought before 
such Special Magistrate under the provisions of section 6 : 

Provided that if the said Special Magistrate is of the opinion 
that such person would, if detained under this Act as a vagrant 
in a vagrants' home, be eligible to be discharged therefrom under 
the provisions of sub-section (1) of section 18, he may, instead of 
dealing with such person as aforesaid, direct that such person be 
released and such person shall thereupon be set at liberty. 

24. Prosecution and jurisdiction to try offenders : (1) No 
prosecution for an offence under this Act may be commenced 
except by, or with the permission, of such officer as may be 
prescribed in this behalf. 

(2) No offence under this Act shall be triable by any Magis- 
trate other than a Presidency Magistrate or a Magistrate of the 
first class. 

25. Persons to be deemed public servants : (Act XLV of 1800) 
All persons empowered to perform any function under this Act 
shall be deemed to be public servants within the meaning of 
section 21 of the Indian Penal Code. 

26. Indemnity: No suit, prosecution or other legal pro- 
ceeding shall lie against any person empowered to perfrom any 
function under this Act for anything which is in good faith done 
or intended to be done under this Act. 

27. Repeal: (Ben. Act IV of 1866; Ben. Act. II of 1866). 
Section 70A of the Calcutta Police Act, 1866, and section 40A of 


the Calcutta Suburban Police Act, 1866, are hereby repealed. 
28. Power to make rides : (1) The Provincial Government 
may make rules for carrying out the purposes of this Act. 

(2) In particular and without 

prejudice to the generality of the foregoing power, such rules 
may provide for all or any of the following matters, namely : 

(a) the purposes for which a person may collect money 
or ask for food or gifts referred to in clause (9) of 
section 2; 

(b) the constitution of the Board referred to in sub-section 
(2) of section 8 ; 

(c) the manner in which the summary inquiry referred to 
in sub-section (1) of section 7 shall be made; 

(d) the manner in which a vagrant is to be sent to a receiving 
centre under sub-section (1) of section 8 and the proviso 
to sub-section (1^ of section 10 ; 

(e) the manner in which a medical officer is medically to 
examine a vagrant under sub-section (2) of section 8 ; 

(/) the types of works for which a vagrant may be reported 
fit under clause (e) of sub-section (3) of section 8 ; 

(g) the manner in which a vagrant is to be sent to a vagrnats' 
home under sub-section (1) of section 9 ; 

(A) the manner in and the extent to which the provisions 
of sub-section (3) of section 9 in respect of children 
may be relaxed; 

(i) the manner in which the money found with or on, or 
the proceeds of the sale of other personal effects of, 
a vagrant may be applied to the welfare of vagrants 
under section 14 ; 

(j) the management and discipline referred to in sub- 
section (1) of section 15 to which vagrants detained in 
receiving centres and vagrants' homes shall be subject ; 

(k) the type of the hard labour which is to form the punish- 
ment which may be awarded under sub-section (3) of 
section 15 ; 

(I) the manner in which a vagrant may be sent from one 
vagrants' home to another under section 16 ; 



(w) the manner in which the Manager of a vagrants' home 
is to certify under clause (a) of sub-section (1) of section 
18 that satisfactory employment has been obtained 
for a vagrant ; 

(n) the amount of the bond referred to in clause (c) of sub- 
section (1) of section 18; 

(0) the officer referred to in sub-section (1) of section 14. 
29. Continuance of action taken under Bengal Ordinance II 
of 1943 : Any rules made or anything done or any action taken 
or any proceedings commenced in exercise of any power con- 
ferred by or under the Bengal Vagrancy Ordinance, 1943, shall, 
on the said Ordinance ceasing to be in operation, be deemed to 
have been made, done, taken or commenced in exercise of powers 
conferred by or under this Act as if this Act had commenced on 
the 30th day of July, 1943. 

By order of the Governor, 

Secy, to the Govt. of Bengal. 


Published by Authority 
Madras, Tuesday evening, May 13, 1941 

The following Act received the assent of His Excellency 
the Governor-General on the 28th April, 1941, and is hereby 
published for general information. 

ACT No. XIII OF 1941. 

POLICE ACT, 1888, for certain purposes. 

WHEREAS it is expedient further to amend the Madras 
City Police Act, 1888, for the purposes hereinafter appearing ; 



AND WHEREAS the Governor of Madras has, by a Pro- 
clamation under section 98 of the Government of India Act, 
1935, assumed to himself all powers vested by or under the sai$ 
Act in the Provincial Legislature; 

NOW, THEREFORE, in exercise of the powers so as- 
sumed to himself, the Governor is pleased to enact as follows : 


1. (1) This Act may be called the Madras City Police 
(Amendment) Act, 1941, 

(2) (a) This section^ section 2 and new section 71-A inserted 
in the Madras City Police Act, 1888 (hereinafter referred to as 
the said Act), by section 3, shall come into force at once. 

(b) The Provincial Government may, by notification in 
the Fort St. George Gazette, direct that new sections 71-B to 
71-L inserted in the saickAct by section 3, shall come into force 
on such date as may be appointed in the notification. 


2. Clause 21 of section 71 of the said Act shall be 


OF 1888. 

3. After section 71 of the said Act, the following sections 
shall be inserted, namely : 


71-A. Whoever in any public street, road, or thorough- 
fare or any place of public resort, begs or applies for alms, or 
exposes or exhibits any sore, wound, bodily ailment or deformity 
with the object of exciting charity or of extorting alms, 
shall be punishable with fine which may extend to fifty rupees 
or with imprisonment which may extend to one month. 


71-B In sections 71 -C to 71-L: 

(a) " work-house " shall mean a place notified by the Pro- 



vincial Government in the Fort St. George Gazette 
as suitable for the reception of persons physically 
capable of ordinary manual labour, who are committed 
to a work-house under any of the provisions contained 
in the said sections ; and 

(6) " special home " shall mean a place notified by the 
Provincial Government in the Fort St. George Gazette 
as suitable for the reception of persons not physically 
capable of ordinary manual labour, who are committed 
to a special home under any of the provisions contained 
in the said sections. 


71-C. The provisions of sections 71-D to 71-G shall apply 
only if the Provincial Government have notified a place as a 
work-house or as a special home; the provisions of section 71-H 
shall apply if the Provincial Government have notified a place 
as a work-house ; and the provisions of section 71-1 shall apply 
if the Provincial Government have notified a place as a special 


71-D. Any person arrested by a police-officer for an offence 
punishable under Sec. 71 -A who in the opinion of such Police 
Officer has attained the age of sixteen years., shall without delay 
be taken before a medical officer attached to the Police Depart- 
ment ; and the medical officer shall after examining such person 
grant a certificate regarding his age and physical capacity for 
ordinary manuat labour. 


71-E. If in the opinion of such medical officer the person 
arrested has not attained the age of sixteen years, such persons 
shall without delay be produced, together with the certificate 
of the medical officer before a Juvenile Court referred to in sub- 


section (1) of section 71-K and the provisions of that section 
shall then apply to the case. 


71-F. (1) If in the opinion of such medical officer the 
person arrested has attained the age of sixteen years, he shall 
without delay be produced before a salaried Presidency Magis- 
trate together with the certificate and a report by a Police- 
Officer of the facts of the case. 

(2) The Magistrate shall make a summary inquiry into 
the facts of the case and the circumstances and the character 
of the person produced before him. 

(3) During such inquiry the Magistrate shall explain to 
such person the facts alleged against him in the Police report 
and record any statement which he may wish to make with 
reference thereto. 

(4) If such person disputes the correctness of the Police 
report in any material respect, the Magistrate shall proceed as 
nearly as may be in accordance with the procedure laid down 
for the trial of summons cases in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 



71 -G. If the Magistrate finds that the person in respect of 
whom an enquiry is made under section 71-F is guilty of an 
offence under section 71-A, but has not attained the age of 
sixteen years, the Magistrate may pass any order which a Juve- 
nile Court could have passed if such person had been produc- 
ed before it under sub-section (1) or section 71-K. 



71-H. (1) If the Magistrate finds that the person in 
respect of whom such inquiry is made is guilty of an offence 
tinder section 71-A, has attained the age of sixteen years, and 
is physically capable of ordinary manual labour, the Magistrate 



may, if there is a work-house, instead of sentencing him under 
section 71 -A, order his commital to sucli work-house for a 
specified period not exceeding three years: 

Provided that the Magistrate may in his discretion order 
the release of such person if he gives an undertaking in writing 
that he will not again commit an offence under section 71 -A 
for such period not exceeding two years as the Magistrate may 

(2) Any person who commits an offence under section 71-A, 
in breach of an undertaking given by him under the proviso 
to sub-section (1) shall, if in the opinion of the Magistrate be 
is physically capable of ordinary manual labour, be punishable 
with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months: 

Provided that the Magistrate may, instead of sentencing 
the offender as aforesaid, order his committal to a work-house 
for a soecified period not exceeding three years. 



71-1. If the Magistrate finds that the person in respect of 
whom an enquiry is made under section 71 -F is guilty of an 
offence under section 71-A and has attained the age of sixteen 
years but is not physically capable of ordinary manual labour, 
the Magistrate may, if there is a special home, instead of 
sentencing him under section 71-A, order his commital to 
such home for a specified period not exceeding three years. 

71-J. Where a Magistrate has arrived at a finding regard- 
ing the age of a person dealt with by him under section 71 -G, 
71-H, or 71-1, such age shall, for the purposes thereof, be deem- 
ed to be his truQ. age, and no order or judgement of the Magis- 
trate shall be deemed to be invalid or be liable to be interfered 
with an appeal or revision on the ground that the age of such 
person was not correctly determined by the Magistrate. 


71-K (1) If any person arrested by a Police Officer for 
an offence punishable under section 71-A has, in the opinion of 



such Police Officer, not attained the age of sixteen years, he 
shall without delay be produced before a Juvenile Court esta- 
blished under Section 36 of the Madras Children Act, 1920, and 
shall be dealt with under the provisions of that Act as modi- 
fied by the provisions of this section : 

Provided that if the Juvenile Court is satisfied on inquiry 
that such person has attained the age of sixteen years, it shall 
record a finding to that effect, and thereupon it shall be open 
to the Police to proceed against such person under section 71-A, 
or if there is a work-house or a special home, under section 71-D; 
and in the latter case the medical officer referred to in section 
71-D shall be required to certify only regarding the physical 
capacity of such person for ordinary manual labour, and the 
finding of the Juvenile Court regarding the age of such person 
shall also be binding on the salaried Presidency Magistrate before 
whom he may be produced. 

(2) If the Juvenile Court finds on inquiry that any person 
brought before it under sub-section (1) has not attained the age 
of fourteen years and is guilty of an offence under section 71-A 
and that he : 

(a) has no home or settled place of abode or visible means 
of subsistence, or has no parent or guardian, or has a 
parent or guardian who does not exercise proper 
guardianship, or 

(b) is destitute and both his parents or his surviving parent 
or in the case of an illegitimate child, his mother, are 
or is undergoing transportation or imprisonment, or 

(c) is under the care of a parent or guardian who by reason 
of criminal or drunken habits is unfit to have such care, 
the Court may pass such order in respect of the offender 
as it could have passed if he had been brought before 
it under subsection (1) or section 29 of the Madras 
Children Act, 1920 : 

Provided that if the Juvenile Court is satisfied that it is 
inexpedient to send the offender to a certified school by reason 
of his bodily ailment or incapacity, or other cause, the Court 
may, if there is a special home and separate accommodation is 



provided in such home for persons who have not attained the 
age of fourteen years order his committal tq such home for a 
specified period not exceeding three y^ars. 

(8) If the Juvenile Court finds on inquiry that a person 
produced before it under sub-section (1) has attained the age 
of fourteen years but has not attained the age of sixteen years 
and that he is guilty of an offence under section 71-A, the Court 
may order his committal for a specified period not exceeding 
three years, 

(a) in case it finds that he is physically capable of ordinary 
manual labour, to a work-house, if there is one, and 

(b) in case it finds that he is not physically capable of or- 
dinary manual labour, to a special home, if there is 

INTO EFFECT SEC. 71 -B to 71 -K. 

71 -L, (1) The Provincial Government may, by notification 
in the Port St. George Gazette make rules for carrying into 
effect the provisions of sections 71-B to 71-K. 

(2) In particular and without prejudice to the generality 
of the foregoing power, such rules may provide for : 

(a) the management of work-houses and special homes, 
the detention of persons committed to such work- 
houses and special homes, and the maintenance, care, 
treatment and instruction of such persons, including 
all matters relating to their diet and accommodation 
as well as their labour and general conduct ; 

(b) the discharge of persons from such work-houses and 
special homes ; 

(c) the obtaining of suitable employment outside such 
work-houses and special homes for persons detained 
therein ; and 

(d) the nature, incidents and maximum periods of the 
punishments to be imposed on persons detained in 
work-houses and special homes for breach of any 



rules or for failure or neglect to accept any suitable 
employment outside such work-houses and special homes 
which may be obtained for them." 

By order of His Excellency the Governor, 


Secretary to Government, Legal Department^ 

Mysore Bill for the prevention of Beggary 

[Bill for the Prohibition of Beggary as amended by the 
Select Committee.] 

(Words in italics indicate the amendments suggested by 
the Committee. Omissions are indicated by asterisks.) 

A Bill for the Prohibition of Beggary 

Preamble : WHEREAS it is necessary and expedient to 
prohibit persons from resorting to begging as a 
means of livelihood and to make provision for 
the relief of such persons ; it is hereby enacted 
as follows : 



1. Short Title : (1) This Act may be called the Act for 
the Prohibition of Beggary. 

Extent and Commencement : (2) This section shall come into 
force at once and the Government may by notification in the 
Official Gazette, apply for all or any of the remaining provisions 
of this Act to the whole or any part of Mysore from such date as 
may be specified in the notification : 

Provided that no such provisions of this Act shall be so 
applied unless the Government is satisfied that suitable facilities 
exist or can be made available by the Central Relief Committee 
for the relief of the beggars of that area. 




2. Definitions : In this Act, unless there is anything re- 
pugnant in the subject or context, 

(1) " Alms " means anything given gratuitously to* * a 
beggar, such as money, food cooked or uncooked grain or 
clothing, or any other thing of value ; 

(2) "Beggar (with its grammatical variations)" means any 
person who makes his living by soliciting alms, impliedly or 
explicitly, in any public place or a place to which the public 
resort and includes 

(i) any person who solicits alms wandering from door to 

(ii) any person who exposes or exhibits any sores, wounds 
or bodily ailments or deformities or makes false and fraudulent 
pretences or does any other act with the object of exciting pity 
for securing alms; 

(iii) a religious mendicant who asks for alms in any public 
place or a place to which the public resort so as to be a nuisance : 
Provided that 

A person shall not be deemed to be a beggar if he 

(i) is a religious mendicant licensed by the Central Relief 

Committee to solicit alms in the prescribed manner ; or 

(ii) in performance of any religious vow or obligation as 

sanctioned by custom or religion collects alms in a 

private or public place, without being a nuisance ; or 

(iii) is permitted in writing by the Central Relief Committee 

to collect contributions in cash or kind from the public 

for any public institution, whether religious or secular 

or for the furtherance of any object for the good of the 

public ; 

(iv) is a student collecting alms for the prosecution of his 

studies ; 

(8) Child: means a person under the age of twelve 

(4) Central Relief Committee : means the Committee 
constituted by the Government under this Act ; 



(5) Foreigner: shall denote a person who is not a natural 
born subject of His Highness the Maharaja or who has not 
acquired domicile in the State by residence therein for not less 
than five years immediately preceding the date when the 
question of his status arises, coupled with the intention to 
reside therein permanently; . 

(6) Indoor Relief: includes relief given in any Institution 
under the Act ; 

(7) Institution : includes a Receiving or Relief centre, 
colony, settlement area or any other institution declared to 
be such by the Government; 

(8) Local Area : means an area declared as such by the 
Government, from time to time, for the purposes of this Act by 
a notification in the official Gazette ; 

(9) Local Committee : means the Committee appointed by 
the Central Relief Committee for any local area; 

(10) Magistrate : means a Magistrate not below the 
rank of Second Class: 

(11) Nuisance : means any act or omission by which 
annoyance, injury or danger is caused or is likely to be caused 
to any person or to the public ; 

(12) Offence : means an act or omission prohibited or made 
punishable under this Act ; 

(13) Out-door relief: includes relief in cash or kind, or 
both ; 

(14) Prescribed : means prescribed by rules under this Act. 


8. Begging prohibited : No person shall beg in the areas 
notified under Section 1 of the Act. 

4. Relief: The relief to be given under this Act shall be 
Indoor relief but the Government may, on the recommendation 
of the Central Relief Committee, permit the grant of Out-door 





& Central Committee : (1) The Government may by noti- 
fication in the Official Gazette, * * * * 
constitute a Central Relief Committee. 

Composition of the Central Committee : (2) The Committee 
shall consist of such number of members as may be prescribed. 

Chairman and Secretary : (3) The Government may ap- 
point one of the members of the * * Committee as its 
Chairman and appoint a Secretary who may or may not be a 
member of the * * Committee. 

Terms : (4?) The Chairman and the members of the * 

* Committee shall hold office for such period as the Go- 
vernment may by notification in the Official Gazette direct in 
this behalf. 

Vacancies : (5) (a) Casual or other vacancies in the * 

* * Committee shall be filled up by the Government in 
the .prescribed manner. 

(b) During any vacancy in the * * * Com- 
mittee, the continuing members may act as if no vacancy had 

Administration to vest in the Centred Relief Committee : 
(6) Subject to the provisions of this Act and the rules made 
thereunder, the supervision, direction, and control, of all mat- 
ters relating to the administration of relief * * * 
shall vest i$ the * * Committee. 

6. Local committees: The * * * Committee, 
may for the purposes of carrying out the provisions of this Act 
in any local area* constitute as prescribed, a local committee. 

7. Local administration: (1) Subject to the control of 
the Central Relief Committee and the rules made in this behalf, 
the administration of relief to the beggars in any local area 
shall be vested in the local Committee. 

(2) For the purpose of carrying 

out the provisions of this Act in any part Qjf a local area, the 
local committee may constitute sub-committees as prescribed* 





8. Receiving Centres : The Central Relief Committee may 
provide Receiving Centres for the reception and temporary 
retention of beggars or it may declare by notification in the Offi- 
cial Gazette any institution to be a Receiving Centre for the 
purposes of this Act. 

9. Relief Centres : The Central Relief Committee may 
establish institutions, * * in such places as 
may be deerted necessary for the relief of beggars sent thereto 
or may in the manner prescribed ill Section 8, declare any exist- 
ing institution as a Relief Centre. 

10. Management of Centres : (a) Subject to the provisions 
of this Act, the Central Relief Committee shall make provision 
for the proper management of institutions and for the care of 
the inmates therein. 

Discipline in Centres: (b) Every person retained in any 
of the institutions shall be subject to such rules of discipline 
as may be prescribed. 

Explanation "Discipline " includes the enforcement of manual labour and hard 

11. Enforcement of Discipline : The Central Relief Com- 
mittee may authorise the person in-charge of any institution to 
enforce discipline in such institution in the manner prescribed. 



12. Beggar who persists in begging to be arrested and sent to 
the Receiving Centre : (1) Any police officer or such other officer 
as may be authorised in this behalf, who finds any person con- 
travening the provisions of Section 3, shall, in the first instance, 
persuade such person to desist from begging and if he does not 
so desist, shall arrest and remove him immediately to the nearest 
Receiving Centre; 

Enquiry at the Receiving Centre. Officer may release him 



with or without surety : (2) The person in-charge of the Receiv- 
ing Centre shall thereupon without delay hold such enquiry as 
he deems necessary and if satisfied that the person, if released, 
will not resort to begging, shall release him forthwith, with or 
without surety ; and if not so satisfied shall produce him before 
the nearest Magistrate having jurisdiction. The Magistrate 
shall thereupon hold an enquiry and if satisfied that such person 
has committed the offence but promises not to contravene the 
provisions of Section 3, shall release him after obtaining the 
prescribed bond ; 

Or send the beggar to the Magistrate, who may release the beg- 
gar on Bond : (3) If the person so released is again produced 
before the Magistrate for a similar offence, he shall if it is proved 
against him, not be released without a surety. 

13. Magistrate to send beggar to the Receiving Centre : 
(i) If the person against whom action has been taken under 
Section 12 is again produced before the Magistrate for a similar 
offence or when such person does not or is unable to comply with 
the directions contained in the said section, the Magistrate shall, 
on summary enquiry, make an order declaring such person to 
be a beggar and direct that he be detained in the 'nearest Re- 
ceiving Centre. 

Maintenance to be recovered from the beggar or his relative : 
(ii) If in the course of the enquiry by the Magistrate under 
Section 12, sub-section (1), it is found that the beggar has any 
property in his own right or is entitled to a share in any pro- 
perty, or has relatives who are legally bound to maintain him 
and who wilfully neglect to maintain him the Magistrate may, 
while making the declaratory order, direct that the cost of 
maintaining the said beggar or such amount as specified by him 
be recovered as fine from the property of the beggar or the person 
or persons responsible for his maintenance. 

14. How person in-charge of Deceiving Centre to deal with 
the beggar so sent : Any person so sent to the Receiving Centre 
shall thereafter be removed to such Institution as is declared 
by the person in-charge of the Receiving Centre, to be suitable 
to him. 



15. Infirm and decrepit beggars and incurables to be 
arrested and sent to Receiving Centres : (i) Any Police Officer or 
such other officer as may be authorised in this behalf, who finds 
in any public place, or any place to which the public resort, 
any beggar who is infirm, disabled, decrepit, or suffering from 
any loathsome or incurable disease, shall arrest that person 
and remove him without delay to the Receiving Centre. 

Person in-ckarge of the Receiving Centre to remove suck beg" 
gars to the Magistrate to obtain declaration : (ii) The person in- 
charge of the Receiving Centre shall thereafter hold an enquiry 
and ascertain from that person, if he has any relatives and if 
there are anj, the officer shall immediately send for them and 
if on enquiry it is found that the beggar cannot be taken care 
of, or if there are no relatives, the person in-charge of the 
Receiving Centre shall, with his report of enquiry, immediately 
produce him before the Magistrate, who after enquiry shall 
declare that person to be a beggar and order him to be taken 
at once to the Receiving Centre. 

To be sent to the institution kept for them : (iii) The person 
in-charge of the Receiving Centre shall thereafter send such 
person to one of the institutions kept for that purpose. 

16. Child beggars to be sent to the Receiving Centres under 
a Declaration by the Magistrate : ( 1 ) If a person arrested under 
the provisions of this Act, is, in the opinion of the officer arrest- 
ing him, below the age of twelve years, he shall without delay 
be removed to the Receiving Centre, whereupon the person in- 
charge of the Receiving Centre shall, after preliminary enquiry, 
place him before the Magistrate and, if the Magistrate after 
enquiry finds that he 

(a) has no home or settled place or abode or means of 
subsistence or has no parent or guardian, or has a 
parent or guardian who does not exercise a proper 
wardship ; or 

(b) is a destitute and both his parents or his surviving 
parent, or in the case of an illegitimate child, his 
mother, are or is undergoing imprisonment; or 

(c) is under the care of a parent or guardian who by reason 



of criminal or drunken habits is unfit to exercise such 

shall declare the person to be a beggar and send him to the 
Receiving Centre : 

Provided that if such a person has a parent or a proper 
guardian, the Magistrate shall call upon that parent or guar- 
dian to execute a bond and stand surety for that person not 
committing an act contrary to the provisions of Section 8 and 
thereafter release him, but if that parent or guardian himself 
is a beggar, and no other relative comes forward to take care of 
the person, he shall be sent to the Receiving Centre with a 
declaration as provided therein. 

Maintenance of the child to be recovered from parent or guar- 
dian : (2) If in the course of the enquiry, the Magsistrate is 
of opinion that the parent or guardian being competent to main- 
tain the child, has wilfully neglected to do so, he may in his 
order committing such child to the Receiving Centre, direct that 
such amount as he may deem necessary for the maintenance of 
the child be recovered by way of fine from such person or 

Manner in which person in-charge of the Receiving Centre 
to deal with the child : (3) The person in-charge of the Receiving 
Centre shall thereupon send the child to such Institution best 
suited for him. 

17. Beggar not to leave the institution till discharge: No 
person who is admitted to any Institution shall leave the said 
place without an order of discharge or without the written per- 
mission of the person in-charge of the Institution. 

18. Absconding beggars how to be dealt with: (1) On a 
report from the person in-charge of any Institution that a per- 
son has left such institution in contravention of the provisions 
of Section 17, and Police Officer or any officer authorised in this 
behalf shall arrest him without a warrant and produce him before 
the nearest Magistrate and the Magistrate shall, after satisfying 
that the said person did commit the act complained of order 
him to be delivered to the institution, with a warning. 

Imprisonment: (2) Any person dealt with under the pro- 



vision of sub-section (1), who absconds or takes to begging after 
he is discharged under Section 17 shall be placed before a Magis- 
trate, who after an enquiry may convict him and sentence him 
to imprisonment for a period not exceeding three months. 

19. Abettors punished with imprisonment or fine or both : 
Whoever employs any person to ask for alms, or abets such 
employment, or whoever having the custody, charge of care 
of a child, abets or encourages sucli employment shall be punish- 
ed on conviction before a Magistrate with simple or rigorous 
imprisonment for a term which may extend to three months or 
with fine which may extend to one hundred rupees or with both, 

20. Refusal of a Beggar to go to a Beggar Belief Institution 
or to a Magistrate punishable with imprisonment or fine or both : 
Any person refusing or failing to accompany a Police Officer 
or any officer authorised in this behalf to appear before a Magis- 
trate or to be taken to an Institution when required, under this 
Act, shall be punished on conviction by a Magistrate, with 
simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one 
month or with fine or both. 



21. Begging a cognizable offence: All offences under this 
Act shall be cognizable * * * as defined in the Criminal 
Procedure Code. 

22. (1) Where a magistrate, before whom a beggar is pro- 
duced under sections 12, 13 or 15, is satisfied that the beggar 
is a foreigner, he may order the beggar to remove himself from 
Mysore and may cause him to be removed from Mysore in such 
manner as may be prescribed ; 

(2) If any beggar ordered to remove himself from Mysore 
or to be removed therefrom wilfully returns thereto he shall be 
punishable with imprisonment which may extend to three months, 
and after the completion of his term of imprisonment, shall be 
liable to be removed from Mysore in the prescribed manner 



28. Fines : Fines recovered under this Act shall be cre- 
dited to the Central Relief Fund, 

24. POWCK to acquire property \ etc : The Central Relief 
Committee or any local committee subject to the rules made 
in this behalf shall have power to acquire property, enter into 
contracts, institute and defend legal proceedings and do all other 
acts incidental thereto. 

25. Appointment of officers : The Central Relief Committee 
or the local committee with the previous sanction of the Central 
Relief Committee may appoint officers for the purpose of the 
Act in accordance with the rules prescribed in that behalf. 

26. Protection of officers : No suit, prosecution or other 
legal proceedings shall lie against any person * * for 
anything which is done or intended to be done in good faith 
under this Act. 

27. Public servant : Every person empowered to perform 
any function under the Act shall be deemed to be a public ser- 
vant within the meaning of Section 21 of the Indian Penal 
Code as in force in Mysore. 

28. Central Relief Fund : In order to carry out the purposes 
of this Act, a fund called the Central Relief Fund shall be formed. 
This Fund shall consist of - - 

(i) subscriptions and donations ; 
(ii) grants from the Government ; 
(iii) grants from Local Bodies, and other private or public 

Institutions ; 

(iv) fines recovered under this Act ; 
(v) receipts from other sources. 

29. Taxation : If the Central Relief Fund is found to be 
insufficient for the grant of adequate relief to beggars under 
this Act, the Government may levy a cess on all items of State 
Revenue, other than revenue derived as tax or cess on land or 

30. Board of Visitors : The Government may as per rules 
made in this behalf appoint a Board of Visitors in local areas to 
inspect, from time to time, the Institutions situated therein, and 
to make a report on the working of these institutions to the 


Government and offer such suggestions as In their opinion they 
deem fit for the improvement of the said institutions. 

31, Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in the 
Code of Criminal Procedure, 1904, any person, aggrieved by any 
decision of a magistrate under this Act, may apply to the Court 
of Session having jurisdiction in the prescribed manner and 
within the prescribed time for revision of such decision and the 
Court in so doing may examine the legality or propriety of the 
proceedings before the magistrate. The decision of the Court 
shall be final, 

32, Appeal : (1 ) If any inmate of an institution is aggrieved 
by any order passed by any person in -charge of the Institution, 
he may appeal against that order to the Chairman of the Local 

Appeal, Board's decision final : (2) The decision of the Chair- 
man of the Local Committee may be taken up in the second 
appeal to the Board of Appeal constituted as prescribed by the 
Belief Committee from amongst its members, and the order of 
that Board shall be final, 

33, Charge for Misconduct : The Government nxay on the 
report of an Auditor who may be appointed by the Government to 
audit tlie accounts of the Central Relief Fund pass an order 
charging any person responsible for incurring any loss due to 
misconduct or negligence, after obtaining his explanation and 
shall in every such case certify the amount due from such person, 
and the Central Relief Committee shall recover the said amount 
from such person as if it were an arrear of land revenue and credit 
it to the Central Relief Fund 

34, Publication of Annual accounts: The annual accounts 
of receipts and expenditure, and the budget when sanctioned 
shall be open to public inspection and shall be published in such 
manner as the Government may prescribe. 

35, Administration Report: (1) As soon as may be after 
the 1st of July every year, and not later than such date as may 
b# fixed by the Government, the Central Relief Committee shall 
submit to the Government an administration report for the 
preceding official year in such manner and with such details as 
the Government may direct, 



(2) Each Local Committee shall., 

as soon as may be after the 1st July of each year and not alter 
than such date as may be fixed by the Central Relief Com- 
mittee, submit to the Central Relief Committee an administration 
report for the preceding official year in such manner and in* 
such form as may be fixed by the Central Relief Committee. 

(3) The report shall be publish- 
ed in such manner as the Government may direct* 



86. Powers of Government : The Government or any officer 
authorised by the Government by a general or special order shall 
have power 

(a) Inspection of Institutions : to enter and inspect any 
institution under the control or management of the Central 
Relief Committee or inspect any work in progress under it or 
under its direction ; 

(b) Calling for any record : to call for any extract from 
the ^proceedings of the Central Relief Committee or of any Com- 
mittee under its control and direction and any return, statement, 
account or report which the Central Relief Committee may be 
required to furnish ; 

(c) Rectification of orders : to inspect the office of the Central 
Relief Committee or any office under its control and direction, 
and call for the records of any such office, and the officer autho- 
rized shall submit the records for the orders of Government if 
he is satisfied that the order or proceeding of the Central Relief 
Committee or the Local Committee is contrary to law or orders 
for the time beingnn force. 

87. Disputes : (1) If any dispute arises between the 
Central Relief Committee and Local Committees or local bodies 
in any matters arising under the provisions of this * * 
Act and the dispute is not amicably settled, the matter shall be 
reported to the Government who may take cognizance of the 
dispute and decide it and the decision of the Government shall 
be final* 



.(2) Bar to Civil proceedings : No suit shall foe 'entertained 
.by a Civil Court in respect of -any dispute referred to in sub- 
section (1). 

8L Rules and ^Orders: '(I) The Government -may make 
triiles or orders generally for the purpose of carrying into -eifect 
ithe provision* of this Act. 

(2) In particular and without 

prejudice to the generality of the foregoing power, the Govern- 
ment may make rules for 

(a) Licensing of religions mendwanis : the manner in which 
religious mendicants may be licensed;; 

(ft) Constitution of Committee-: the constitution of the 
Committee and institutions and their powers, duties 
and functions ; 

(c) Removal of foreigners : matters provided in Section 22 ; 

(d) Board of Visitors: the constitution of the Board of 
Visitors, its powers, duties and functions; 

(e) Submission of records : the submission of returns and 
statements and reports and the preparation and sub- 
mission of annual receipts and expenditure and the 
annual administration report by the Central Relief 
Committee and the Local Committees; 

(/) Audit: the auditing of accounts; 

(g) Board of Appeal : the constitution of a Board of Appeal, 
its powers, duties and functions ; 

(h) Transfer of Beggars : the transfer of beggars from one 
institution to another ; and 

(i) Form of bonds : prescribing the form of bonds required 
to be taken under the provisions of this Act* 

(3) Publication : The power of 

the Government to make rules under this Act shall be subject 
to the condition of previous publication, 

' (4) All rules made by the 

Government under this Act shall be published in the Official 



Gazette, both in English and Kannada, and shall thereupon have 
effect as if enacted under this Act. 

&9*. If any provision of any other enactment in force in 
Mysore is repugnant to any provision contained ia this Act* 
the latter provision, shall prevail* 



The Cochin Vagrancy Bill 


WHEREAS it is expedient to deal more effectively with 
the beggars |md vagrants in the State and establish institutions 
for the reception, accommodation and treatment of such persons, 
it is hereby enacted as follows : 



1. (i) This Act may be called the COCHIN VAGRANCY ACT 

of 111. 

(ii) It shall come into force on such day as the Govern- 
ment by notification in the Gazette,, directs. 

(iii) It shall apply to such local areas as the Govt. may, 
from time to time, notify in the Gazette. 


2. The Government may, by notification in the Gazette, 
exclude any local area which has been notified under Section 
1 (iii) from the operation of this Act. 


3. In this Act, unless there is anything repugnant in the 
subject or context : 

(i) " magistrate " means a person exercising the powers 
than those of Magistrate of the second class. 

(ii) "Vagrant" means: 

(a) any person wandering abroad or placing himself in 
any public plriee to beg or gather alms or causing 
or encouraging or procuring any child &o do so ; 

(b) any person wandering abroad* to > hawk goods 
without a pedlar's license ; 



(c) any person whose wilful neglect to work causes 
him or her, or any of his or her family, to go about 

(d) any person running away causing his child or wife 
to live upon charity; 

((e) any person endeavouring to procure alms by exposing 
deformities or by making fraudulent pretences ; 

{ f) any person found in a building or inside an enclosed 
yard or garden, for any immoral and unlawful 
purpose ; 

(g) any person gaming, in an open and public place, at 
some game of chance with cards, coins and other 
instruments ; 

(h) any person telling fortunes or using any subtle craft, 
by palmistry or otherwise, to deceive; 

(i) any . (person wandering abroad, without visible means 
of subsistence, and lodging in unoccupied buildings, or 
under a tree or tent or in a cart, and not giving a 
good account of himself; 

{j) any person knowingly living, wholly or in part, on the 
earnings of prostitution, or persistently soliciting in 
public for immoral purposes. 

(iii) " child" means a minor belonging to either sex ; 

(iv) "prescribed" means prescribed by the Government 
of Cochin and notified in the Cochin Government 


Receiving Centres and Institutions for the Reception, 
Accommodation and Treatment of Vagrants. 


4. The Government may provide receiving centres with 
their necessary furniture and establishment, at such places as 
they may think proper, for the reception and detention of 


vagrants, or may, by notification in the Gazette, certify any build- 
ing or part of a building or quarters as a receiving centre, and 
thereupon such building or part of a building or quarters, shall 
until the Government otherwise order, be deemed a receiving 
centre for vagrants under the Act. 



5. The Government may provide institutions for the 
accommodation and treatment of vagrants, such as hospitals for 
incurables and curables, alms houses, individual homes, indus- 
trial schools, or other similar institutions; or may, by notifica- 
tion in the Government Gazette, certify any existing building 
to be an institution for the accommodation and treatment of 
vagrants under this Act : 

Provided the Government may also authorise any private 
agency or local bodies to run the institutions mentioned in this 
section on such conditions as the Government may stipulate. 


6. All vagrants declared to be such under the Act shall 
be received and detained in the first instance at the receiving 
centre, and after examination by the medical superintendent 
or officer-in -charge, shall be removed to one or other of the 
institutions for which they may be declared fit. 


7. The Government shall appoint for each of the local 
areas to which this Act applies a Board of Guardians consisting 
of five members. Such persons shall hold office for such period 
as the Government may, by notification in the Gazette direct. 


8. The Board of Guardians shall have the absolute control 
of the receiving centres and institutions provided or certified 
under Sections 5 and 6, subject to any rules made in this behalf 
by Government; 

Provided that where the institutions are run by private 



agencies or local bodies the Government shall have the power 
of limiting the powers of the Board as it thinks proper. 


9. The Board of Guardians may, subject to the approval 
of the Government, appoint a Medical Superintendent to 
exercise general charge of any or all of such receiving centres or 
institutions provided or certified under the Act. 


10. The Board of Guardians may also, from time to time, 
appoint such other medical and other officers and servants for 
the control and management of the receiving centres and insti- 
tutions and generally for the carrying out of the provisions of 
this Act as they may think fit. 


11. The Board of Guardians shall make rules to provide 


(i) The time and places at which their meetings shall be 


(ii) The issue of notices for convening such meetings ; 
(iii) The conduct of business thereat ; 
(iv) The quorum necessary for such meetings ; 
(v) The appointment, leave and pension of officers and 

servants appointed under the Act; and 
(vi) The general guidance of officer in connection with 

the enforcement of the Act. 


12. Every such medical superintendent or other officer 
appointed under this Act shall be, after notification in the 
Government Gazette, be deemed to be a public servant within 
the meaning of the Cochin Penal Code. 



18. (i) The Government may make rules from time to 
time for the control and management of the receiving centres 


and of any hospitals for incurables or curables or alms-houses, 
industrial houses or industrial schools or any other institution 
provided or certified under the Act for the reception, accom- 
modation and treatment of vagrants. In particular and without 
prejudice to the generality for the foregoing powers, such rules 
may provide for : 

(a) the search of the person and clothing of any vagrant ; 

(6) the custody or destruction of clothing and effects of 
such person; 

(c) the diet, dress and accommodation of such inmates ; 

(d) the personal cleanliness, hours of work, hours of meals, 
labour and general discipline and conduct of the in- 
mates ; 

(e) the particular institution in which a vagrant may be 
treated ; 

(/) taking of finger impressions and photographs and the 
recording of further particulars for the future identi- 
fication of the inmates ; 
(g) the discharge of inmates from a receiving centre or 

other institution ; and 
(h) the segregation of inmates according to sex, age and 


(ii) Any rules made under this section may, with the like 
approval, be altered or rescinded by the Board of Guardians 
after previous publication of the alteration or rescission. 

(iii) Every rule and the alteration of a rule m&de under 
this section and every rescission of any such rule, shall be pub- 
lished in the Government Gazette. 


14. Vagrants admitted to a. receiving centre or other 
institution under the Act shall be subject to such rules of 
management and discipline as may, from time to time, be 


15. The Board of Guardians may authorise any Medical 
Superintendent or any officer-in-charge of a receiving centre or 



institution for the reception, accommodation and treatment of 
vagrants to punish any vagrant who knowingly disobeys or 
neglects any such rules with any one of the following punish- 
ments : 

(a) hard labour for any time not exceeding seven days ; or 
(6) reduction of diet to such extent as the Board may 
prescribe for any specified time. 



16. Any Police Officer may, within the limits of the local 
area to which this Act is applicable, require any person, who is 
apparently a vagrant, to accompany him or any other police 
officer to, and appear before the local Magistrate. 


17. (1) The Magistrate shall, in such a case, or in any other 
case where a person, apparently a vagrant, comes before him, 
make a summary enquiry into the circumstances and character 
of such person and if he is satisfied that such person is a vagrant 
shall record a declaration to that effect. 

(2) If the Magistrate makes the declaration mentioned in 
sub-clause (1) and if he has reason to believe that a declaration 
of vagrancy has not on any former occasion been recorded in 
respect of such vagrant, he shall require the vagrant to go to a 
receiving centre for vagrants and shall draw up an order to that 

(8) The vagrant shall then be made over to the custody of 
the police for the purpose of being sent to a receiving centre for 
vagrants and the said order shall be Sufficient authority to the 
police for detaining him in their charge while he is on his way to 
a receiving centre or other institution and, to the superintendent 
for receiving and detaining him there, or for the removal of the 
said vagrant from the receiving centre to any other institution 



for the reception, accommodation and treatment of vagrants 
provided or certified under this Act. 

18. (1) Whenever it shall appear to the Commissioner 
of Police that any person is living on the earnings of vagrants 
within the local areas to which this is made applicable, he shall 
make a report to the Government with the recommendation 
that such person be deported out of Cochin. 

(2) On receipt of such report, the Government may issue 
a warrant for the arrest of the person against whom a report 
has been made. Such report shall be in the form prescribed by 
the Government and shall be issued by the Secretary to the 
Government of His Highness the Maharaja of Cochin. 

(3) The person arrested shall be detained in custody 
pending, the final orders of the Government unless the 
Commissioner of Police otherwise directs. 

(4) The District Magistrate or any other Magistrate of the 
rank not below the second class shall thereafter consider in 
camera the case against him and shall thereafter report his con- 
clusions to the Government. 

(5) On receipt of the report, the Government may, if 
satisfied that the person against whom the report has been made 
should be removed from Cochin, direct him to leave Cochin 
within such time and for such period as may be stated in the 
order and may further order that he shall during the same period 
notify his place of residence and any change, or intended change 
of residence, to such Officer as may be prescribed by the 



19. When any person has been convicted of any offence 
by a Court under its summary jurisdiction, or when any person 
appears or is brought before such court under the provisions of 
this Act, and if, after due enquiry, the Magistrate is of opinion 
that the person so convicted or appearing or brought before 
the court is a vagrant he may, in addition to or in substitution 
for, any punishment, which he has power to inflict, order such 



person to go to a receiving centre or other institution for the 
treatment of vagrants. 

(2) Any such order shall declare that the person against 
whom it is made is a vagrant. Such order shall be sufficient 
authority to the police for keeping in custody such person on 
the way to a receiving centre or other institution, and to the 
superintendent for receiving and detaining him there, or for the 
removal of the said vagrant from the receiving centre to any 
other institution for the reception, accommodation and treat- 
ment of vagrants provided or certified under this Act. 


20. Every person sent to such receiving centre or any 
such Institution shall be detained until work has been found 
for him or until he is removed or discharged as mentioned 


21. Every person so detained shall, if he is physically fit, 
be put to such labour as the Medical superintendent or a medical 
officer appointed by the Board of Guardians shall certify him 
to be capable of doing. 


22. (1) Every vagrant admitted to a receiving centre 
or other institution shall be searched, and the vagrant's 
bundles, packages and other personal effects shall be inspected. 

(2) The Medical superintendent or other officer in charge 
may direct that any money then found with or on the vagrant 
shall be applied towards his maintenance while in such receiving 
centre or other institution, and any balance remaining shall be 
returned to such vagrant on his discharge therefrom. 


23. Whenever a person is declared to be a vagrant and is 
sent to a receiving centre the Medical superintendent or other 
Officer-in-charge shall after due period and careful examination 
decide to which particular institution for the detention and treat- 
ment of vagrants he shall further be sent, and such vagrant 
shall be sent to such institutions as the Medical superintendent 



or other Officer-in-charge shall decide, subject to the control of 
the Board of Guardians. 


24. (1) The Medical superintendent, Superintendents or 
Officers-in-charge of a receiving centre and institution declared 
or certified under this Act, and the Board of Guardians shall 
use his or their best endeavours to obtain, as soon as con- 
veniently may be suitable outside employment for vagrants 
under their charge. 

(ft) The Board may discharge any person from such 
receiving centre or any such institution in accordance with the 
rules made under Section 13 (1) (g). 




25. Any person refusing or failing to accompany a police 
officer, to, or to appear before, a magistrate for the purpose of a 
preliminary enquiry, when required to do so under Section 17, 
may be arrested without a warrant and shall be liable on con- 
viction before a Magistrate, to imprisonment, with or without 
hard labour, for a term which may extend to one month, or with 
fine which may extend to fifty rupees, or with both, in addition 
to any order passed under Section 18 or any penalty imposed 
under Section 29. 


26. Any vagrant who escapes from the police while com- 
mitted to their charge under an order specified in Section 17 or 
Section 18, or who leaves a receiving centre or institution for the 
treatment of vagrants provided or certified under this Act, 
without permission from the Medical superintendent or Officer- 
in-charge of such centre or institution or who, having such per- 
mission fails to return on the expiration of such time shall, if 
no satisfactory reason is given for such absence, be liable on 



conviction before a Magistrate to imprisonment with or without 
labour, for a term which may extend to six months for every such 


27. In lieu of any punishment inflicted by the Medical 
superintendent or other Officer under Section 16, any vagrant 
who knowingly and persistently disobeys or neglects any rules 
or management or discipline shall be liable on conviction before 
a Magistrate, to imprisonment, with or without hard labour, 
for a term which may extend to three months. 


28. Any vagrant who refuses to avail himself of employment 
obtained for him under section 24 shall be liable, on conviction 
before a Magistrate, to imprisonment, with or without hard 
labour, for a term which may extend to three months. 


29. (1) Any person who has been previously produced 
or who has previously appeared before Magistrate under Section 
18 or Section 19 and has previously been sent to a receiving centre 
or any institution for the reception, accommodation and treat- 
ment of vagrants, aud is again produced or appears before a 
Magistrate under the same Sections of this Act, and is again de- 
clared a vagrant shall be liable to imprisonment with or without 
hard labour, for a term which may extend to three months, and 
for any third or subsequent declaration as a vagrant to imprison- 
ment, with or without hard labour, for a term which may extend 
to one year. 

(2) It shall be no bar to a prosecution under this Section 
that such a vagrant, owing to the fact of his previous declaration 
as a vagrant being then unknown, has been dealt with under 
Section 18, or Section 19, and already sent to the receiving 


30. (1) Any person who allows, causes, employs, or en- 
courages a child under 16 years of age to beg, or profits by the 
begging of a child under 16 years of age, whether or not there 



is any pretence of singing, playing, performing, offering anything 
for sale or otherwise, shall, on conviction before a Magistrate 
be liable to imprisonment, with or without hard labour, for a 
term which may extend to two years, or to a fine not exceeding 
500 rupees, or both. 

(2) Any action taken against a vagrant or against any 
person living on the earnings of a vagrant under Section 16 of 
this Act shall be no bar to any prosecution under clause (1) of 
this Section. 

(3) Whoever abets or assists the commission of any offence 
under clause (1) shall also be liable to the same punishment. 


81. (1) If within a reasonable time, not exceeding three 
months from the date when he was admitted to any receiving 
centre or other institution for the detention and treatment of 
vagrants no suitable employment is found for any able-bodied 
vagrant detained in such receiving centre or other institution, 
and such vagrant not being a bona fide subject of His Highness 
the Maharaja of Cochin, the Government may, on the application 
of the Board of Guardians, order him to be repatriated from 
Cochin; and he shall be repatriated accordingly. 

(2) Any person returning to Cochin after having been 
repatriated under this Section shall be liable on conviction there- 
of before a magistrate, to imprisonment, with or without hard 
labour, for a term which may extend to six months. 

(3) All the expenses of such repatriation shall be borne 
by the Government. 




32, All fines imposed under the provisions of this Act may 
be recovered in the manner prescribed by the Code of Criminal 

83. (1) Any person who fails to comply with or attempts 



to evade any direction given in accordance with the provisions 
of Section 16 shall be liable to be arrested without a warrant 
and shall, on conviction by Magistrate, be liable to be punished 
with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years 
or to a fine which may extend to one thousand rupees, or both. 
(2) An offence under this section shall be deemed to be 


34. All fines recovered under this Act shall be credited 
to the funds of the Board of Guardians. 


35. All prosecutions under this Act may be instituted and 
conducted by such Officers as the Government shall prescribe, 
from time to time, in this behalf. 


36. No proceedings under this Act shall be deemed invalid 
by reason only that the District Magistrate or the Magistrate 
of the first or second class, before whom a person, apparently 
a vagrant, was required to appear, or before whom a person was 
placed under this Act, was not the nearest. 


37. In any proceedings under this Act a certified copy of 
the declaration recorded under Section 17 or Section 18 shall be 
prima facie evidence that the vagrant named therein has been, 
upon the summary enquiry, mentioned in either of those sections, 
determied to be, and that he was at the date of declaration, 
a vagrant. 

How To BE MET? 

38. The Government may direct that the cost of the main- 
tenance of any receiving centre or institution for the treatment 
of vagrants, provided or certified under Sections 4 and 5, and oi 
the inmates in such receiving centres and institutions, and of 
the Medical superintendent, Superintendents and other officers 
and servants appointed thereto, shall be defrayed from the 
funds of the Board of Guardians. 




39. The Government may make rules for all or any of the 
purposes of this Act and, amongst other things for : 

(i) the manner in which the cost of the receiving centres 
and institutions for vagrants is to be met ; 

(ii)the supervision which may be exercised by the Com- 
missioners of the Municipalities of Erankulam, Mattan- 
cheri and Trichur ; 

(iii) the contributions to be paid to the funds of the Board 
of Guardians by other Municipalities or local areas to 
which the provisions of this enactment are made appli- 
cable by virtue of a notification published under clause 
(b) of Section 2 ; 

(iv) the receipt of contributions to the Board of Guardians 
fron\ members of the public or from any other sources ; 

( v) any other matter connected with the cost of maintenance 
of such receiving centres, institutions, inmates, medical 
superintendents or other officers or servants. 


40. A revision shall lie to the High Court from any order 
or sentence of conviction passed by a Magistrate under any of 
the provisions of this Act. 


The absence of a wholesome, piece of legislation compre- 
hensive enough to bring within its fold every conceivable form 
of vagrancy and capable of successfully tackling the problems of 
beggary has been keenly felt in our State for a long time. No 
doubt, legislation can go only half-way in tackling the problem 
and its fulfilment has to be sought in organising poor houses 
either by the Government or local bodies or other agencies. 
But, a proper legislation will be a guide to sucji constructive 
schemes and will go a long way in aiding such local areas where 
constructive endeavours at organising poor houses are under- 
taken, to which alone this legislation is intended to apply 


Individual charity should give place to institutional charity and 
44 the would nots " and " could nots " among the indigent classes 
dealt with in the proper manner. Hence the Bill. 

Sd./ M. K. Devassy, 
C. J. Mathew, 

Secretary to the Council, 
The Huzur Secretariat, 
Law Department, 
10th February, 1940. 
28th Makaram 1115.